Michael Smutny

Michael SmutnyResearch summary

We are interested in how the animal body plan is shaped through a complex interplay between biochemical and mechanical processes acting during embryonic development. The lab is focused on critical events during time of gastrulation, where germ layers become specified and extensive morphogenetic rearrangements occur to form specialized structures in the embryo. We especially aim to identify molecular, cellular and physical mechanisms regulating vital processes such as cell and tissue morphogenesis, cell-cell adhesion and cell specification. The current research focus is on regulatory processes in the development of the early forebrain and mechanisms controlling cell dynamics and migration during embryonic development. We are using interdisciplinary approaches including quantitative live cell imaging, biophysical measurements, biochemical and genetic tools (CRISPR/Cas9), genomics/transcriptomics and mathematical modeling from subcellular, to tissue level. We are utilizing the zebrafish embryo as a vertebrate model system and use a combination of in vivo and in vitro assays to study these questions.

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Key Publications


Smutny M. et al. (2017) Friction forces position the neural anlage. Nat Cell Biol. doi: 10.1038/ncb3492


Ruprecht V. et al. (2015) Cortical contractility triggers a stochastic switch to fast amoeboid cell motility. Cell. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.01.008.


Smutny M. (2015) UV laser ablation to measure cell and tissue-generated forces in the zebrafish embryo in vivo and ex vivo. Methods Mol Biol. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1164-6_15.


Smutny M. (2011) Multicomponent analysis of junctional movements regulated by myosin II isoforms at the epithelial zonula adherens. PLoS One. doi: 10.10371/journal.pone.0022458


Smutny M. (2010) Myosin II isoforms identify functional modules that support integrity of the epithelial zonula adherens. Nat Cell Biol. doi: 10.1038/ncb2072