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Cell Migration & Gradient Sensing: Lessons from Zebrafish Neutrophils

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Our group is interested in how individual cells navigate in complex tissue environments. We focus on immune cells (neutrophils) and ask how they search tissues and find their way to sites of infection or tissue damage. We approach this through live imaging of immune cells in zebrafish combined with quantitative and genetic approaches. We are also developing new optogenetic tools to interrogate the spatiotemporal dynamics of neutrophil gradient sensing in vivo.


More about the speaker

Dr Milka Sarris joined the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology first as a summer student and then as a PhD student of Alex Betz in 2003. During this time, she became interested in how cells of the immune system communicate in order to ensure appropriate responses to infection and discovered mechanisms that help lymphocytes establish long-lived functional contacts.

She then became preoccupied by how immune cells move and find their way within tissues. Leukocyte behaviour has traditionally been interrogated in vitro and remarkably little is still known about how these cells search tissues and read guidance cues in situ.

Motivated to explore new approaches to this problem, she moved to the Institut Pasteur in Paris in 2009 to join the group of Philippe Herbomel, who had stablished the zebrafish as a model for live imaging studies of the immune system. By exploiting the transparency and genetic tractability of zebrafish, she described mechanisms through which chemokines (the most prominent guidance cues in vertebrates) form functional gradients and instruct leukocyte migration to infection sites.

In April 2014 she was awarded an MRC Career Development Award to initiate her group in the University of Cambridge, at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, which she officially joined in August 2014.

This talk is part of the Foster Talks series.

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