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Transition in pulsed contractions during wild-type ventral furrow formationMovie of embryo undergoing gastrulation. Bolded white pulses are ratcheted pulses. Lighter white pulses are unconstricting or unratcheted pulses. Cells transition from unratcheted to ratcheted pulses. Video / Shicong 'Mimi' Xie

Twist is required for proper order of different contractile pulsesMovie of embryo depleted of Twist undergoing gastrulation. Bolded pulses are ratcheted pulses. Lighter white pulses are unconstricting or unratcheted pulses. Cells do not unidirectionally transition from having unratcheted pulses to ratcheted pulses. Video / Shicong 'Mimi' Xie

Research in Focus

Research in Focus

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Welcome to Martin Lab!

“It is not birth, marriage, or death, but gastrulation, which is truly the most important time in your life.”

Lewis Wolpert

To form a complex organ, simple tissues must be folded, stretched, compressed, and otherwise sculpted into a precise form in a process called tissue morphogenesis. One of the most dramatic examples of tissue morphogenesis occurs during embryonic development, when primitive planar tissues are folded to generate separate layers that will give rise to different parts of the body during gastrulation. Tissue morphogenesis requires that cytoskeletal machines generate forces that change cell shape and deform the tissue. The molecular mechanism by which the cytoskeleton generates force is not known for many of the diverse cell shape changes and tissue movements that underlie morphogenesis. Furthermore, how force generation by hundreds or thousands of cells is coordinated by biochemical and mechanical signals in a tissue is an important step to understand how cells collectively deform a tissue.

The Martin lab is interested in how tissues get their shape. Given that tissue morphogenesis fundamentally involves movement, we have developed a system to visualize and quantify the dynamics of molecules, cells, and tissues during gastrulation. We focus on mesoderm invagination in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, because cell shape changes and cytoskeletal dynamics can be readily imaged by confocal microscopy during a process that occurs on the time scale of minutes. Live imaging can be combined with genetic (mutants, RNAi), cell biological (drug injections), computational (image segmentation and analysis), biophysical (laser cutting), and biochemical (complex purification) approaches to functionally dissect cell shape change in the embryo.

Recent News

Hannah Yevick awarded NIH F32 fellowship | Jul'16

Hannah Yevick awarded NIH F32 fellowshipCongratulations to Dr. Hannah Yevick for being awarded a prestigious NIH fellowship.


Welcome Marlis Denk-Lobnig | Jun'16

Welcome biology student Marlis Denk-LobnigBiology student Marlis Denk-Lobnig joins the lab. Marlis did her undergraduate work at Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany. Marlis is interested in applying computational approaches to studying signaling networks in an embryo.


Jeanne publishes Developmental Cell paper | Dec'15

Jeanne Jodoin publishes Developmental Cell paper! Congratulations Jeanne, for publishing her work in Developmental Cell. Jeanne showed that stable force balance between cells in a tissue requires robust actin filament turnover. The paper was also highlighted by the journal. Read the paper and the highlight article.