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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



I am interested in the ways in which developing tissues produce and respond to mechanical forces in order to achieve the correct shape and pattern. We use early avian embryos as a model system. The large size and accessibility of these embryos allow us to image cell and tissue dynamics, perform molecular genetic perturbations, and deploy novel mechanical tools such as soft gels and cantilevers to measure and apply forces. We are currently investigating the role of paraxial mesoderm forces on body axis straightness (bilateral symmetry) and neural folding, the cellular responses to tissue forces, and the regulation of global tension on the early chicken embryo.

Dr Daniele Kunz
Lauren Moon
Yisha Lan
Ana Hernandez Rodriguez
Dr Changqing Lu
Anfu Wang
Melissa Yuan

Melinda M.V. Kerckvoorde



Key publications: 

Kunz D, Wang A, Chan CU, Pritchard RH, Wang W, Gallo F, Bradshaw CR, Terenzani E, Muller KH, Huang YYS, Xiong F. Downregulation of Extraembryonic Tension Controls Body Axis Formation in Avian Embryos. BioRxiv (

Oginuma, M., Harima, Y., Tarazona, O.A., Diaz-Cuadros, M., Michaut, A., Ishitani, T., Xiong, F. and Pourquié, O (2020). Intracellular pH controls WNT downstream of glycolysis in amniote embryos. Nature 584(7819), 98-101.

Xiong, F., Ma, W., Bénazéraf, B., Mahadevan, L. and Pourquié, O (2020). Mechanical coupling coordinates the co-elongation of axial and paraxial tissues in avian embryos. Developmental Cell 55(3), 354-366.

Mongera, A., Michaut, A., Guillot, C., Xiong, F. and Pourquié, O (2019). Mechanics of Anteroposterior Axis Formation in Vertebrates. Annual review of cell and developmental biology 35, pp.259-283.

Oginuma M, Moncuquet P, Xiong F, Karoly E, Chal J, Guevorkian K, Pourquie O (2017). A Gradient of Glycolytic Activity Coordinates FGF and Wnt Signaling during Elongation of the Body Axis in Amniote Embryos, Developmental Cell 40(4):342-353.

Xiong F, Ma W, Hiscock TW, Mosaliganti KR, Tentner AR, Brakke KA, Rannou N, Gelas A, Souhait L, Swinburne IA, Obholzer ND, Megason SG (2014) Interplay of Cell Shape and Division Orientation Promotes Robust Morphogenesis of Developing Epithelia, Cell 159(2):415-427.

Xiong F, Tentner AR, Huang P, Gelas A, Mosaliganti KR, Souhait L, Rannou N, Swinburne IA, Obholzer ND, Cowgill PD, Schier AF, Megason SG (2013). Specified Neural Progenitors Sort to Form Sharp Domains After Noisy Shh Signaling, Cell 153(3):550-561.

Full list:

Group Leader, Developmental Mechanics Lab, Wellcome Trust / CRUK Gurdon Institute
Sir Henry Dale Fellow
Dr Fengzhu  Xiong

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 3767201
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