Dominique R. Alfandari

Professor of Developmental Biology, Veterinary and Animal Sciences

Ph.D.: University of Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris 6 (France)
Postdoctoral Training: University of Virginia, Department of Cell Biology

Research Interests

ADAMs are cell-surface-Metalloproteases that contain a Disintegrin domain. They were initially discovered on the surface of mature spermatozoid where they play a role during fertilization. The domain organization of ADAM proteins is related to snake venom metalloproteases. When these venoms are released into a victim, the metalloprotease domain degrades the walls of blood vessels while the disintegrin domain prevents platelet integrins from binding and forming blood clots. The combination of these 2 functions induces hemorrhages that can lead to the death of the victim. My group is interested in cell movements that shape the vertebrate embryo. More precisely we are interested in cell interactions either with other cells or with the extracellular environment that control cell movements. We have chosen the Frog embryo (Xenopus Laevis) to study these phenomena because of the large number of embryos that can be generated (thousandths per female), the wide array of molecular reagents available for this specie and the amount of knowledge accumulated over the years by classical embryologists.

Our current research is centered on the function of the ADAM13 metalloprotease during cranial neural crest cell migration. Cranial neural crest are cells that originate at the lateral edge of the anterior neural plate and migrate toward the ventral side of the embryo to colonize the head and make most of the facial cartilages, muscle and bones of the face. These cells are present in all vertebrates including humans. We have shown that if ADAM13 function is prevented, cranial neural crest cells do not migrate into their normal migration pathways. We also showed that ADAM13 binds, cleaves and remodels a substrate composed of the extracellular matrix protein fibronectin. Our current model is that ADAM13 function is to modify the cranial neural crest cell pathways to promote migration of subpopulation of cells in the correct paths.

Our multiple interests in cell behaviors during embryogenesis are reflected by our wide array of techniques. We use Molecular Biology to clone, mutate, express or knock-out genes that we want to study. Biochemical analyzes to identify protein complexes, proteolytic substrates and post-transcriptional regulation of selected proteins in the embryos. Finally we use grafts, live labeling and imaging of cells in whole embryos as well as in vitro cultured explants to understand detail cellular behavior in response to various conditions.


Complete list of publication

Moody, S.A., Neilson, K.M., Kenyon, K.L., Alfandari, D., and Pignoni, F. (2015). Using Xenopus to discover new genes involved in branchiootorenal spectrum disorders. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol 178, 16-24.

Bajanca, F., Alfandari, D., Thorsteinsdottir, S., and Theveneau, E. (2015). Editorial: cell adhesion in development. Dev Biol 401, 1.

Abbruzzese, G., Gorny, A.K., Kaufmann, L.T., Cousin, H., Kleino, I., Steinbeisser, H., and Alfandari, D. (2015). The Wnt receptor Frizzled-4 modulates ADAM13 metalloprotease activity. J Cell Sci 128, 1139-1149.

Abbruzzese, G., Becker, S.F., Kashef, J., and Alfandari, D. (2015). ADAM13 cleavage of cadherin-11 promotes CNC migration independently of the homophilic binding site. Dev Biol.

Wang, L., Pawlak, E.A., Johnson, P.J., Belknap, J.K., Alfandari, D., and Black, S.J. (2014). Expression and activity of collagenases in the digital laminae of horses with carbohydrate overload-induced acute laminitis. J Vet Intern Med 28, 215-222.

Abbruzzese, G., Cousin, H., Salicioni, A.M., and Alfandari, D. (2014). GSK3 and Polo-like kinase regulate ADAM13 function during cranial neural crest cell migration. Mol Biol Cell 25, 4072-4082.

Cousin, H., Abbruzzese, G., McCusker, C., and Alfandari, D. (2012). ADAM13 function is required in the 3 dimensional context of the embryo during cranial neural crest cell migration in Xenopus laevis. Dev Biol 368, 335-344.

Cousin, H., Abbruzzese, G., Kerdavid, E., Gaultier, A., and Alfandari, D. (2011). Translocation of the cytoplasmic domain of ADAM13 to the nucleus is essential for Calpain8-a expression and cranial neural crest cell migration. Dev Cell 20, 256-263.

Alfandari, D., Cousin, H., and Marsden, M. (2010). Mechanism of Xenopus cranial neural crest cell migration. Cell Adh Migr 4, 553-560.