Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan

Alicia Daeden

  • Post-Doctoral Fellow in Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan Lab
  • Room 356
  • +41 22 379 64 97
  • alicia.daeden(at)


I work on the physics of asymmetric cell division.  For my PhD, I am interested to study the physical properties behind asymmetric cell divisions. I am working with the Sensory Organ Precursor cells (SOP) of the fruit fly as a model for asymmetric division.

A recent study in C.Elegans QR.a neuroblasts shows that asymmetric divisions can be the direct result of myosin-driven cortex contraction of one of the poles at the expense of the other (Ou, G. et al., 2010). I will try to investigate this possibility in the SOP model system, as SOP divide asymmetrically give rise to two daughter cell with different cell size. Therefore, I would like to observe the localization of cortical components such as actin or myosin, during cytokinesis in order to know the impact of cortical contractility on the asymmetric division. However, the main question remaining is: How such an asymmetric shape, with more cortical myosin and thus a higher tension in the smaller pole, can be stable? I will then investigate the mechanics of contractility-driven asymmetric divisions by the mean of aspiration or laser ablation experiments to unravel this issue.

 I am also interested in the physical properties that control the asymmetric motility of Sara endosomes during asymmetric cell division. It has been previously shown in the lab that cell fate assignation controlled by Notch signalling is mediated by the asymmetric motility of signalling Sara endosomes on the mitotic spindle. I follow the motility of the endosomes thanks to an internalization assay based on small magnetic nanoparticles and manipulate the endosomes by means of permanent and electromagnets in order to perturb the dynamic of the Sara endosomes and learn more about their asymmetric and directed motility

Education/academic background

I went to the Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg (ESBS), where I graduated of an engineering diploma in September 2012. I did in parallel a Master of Genomics and Modelling in Life Sciences at the University of Strasbourg.

I always be interested in interdisciplinary research as I first started to study physics and chemistry. I then did an internship at the London Centre of Nanotechnology at the University College London in the team of Guillaume Charras in the department of Biophysics. I had to develop experimental, molecular and cellular biology techniques in order to characterize the temporal evolution of the mechanical and elastic properties of epithelial monolayer in correlation with the formation of specialized intercellular interactions.

My increasing interest persuaded me to continue in research and I then started my PhD as a part of the “Internal PhD Program in basic and Applied Molecular Life sciences” in Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan lab since early 2013.