Functional characterization of novel components of C. elegans microvilli
The apical membrane of the intestinal epithelium presents a network of actin-based microvilli, called the brush border, which is essential for food absorption, secretion and interactions with the microbiome. In both SurfEx projects, we propose to molecularly and functionally characterize intestinal microvilli in a living organism, using C. elegans as a model, from normal growth to pathological atrophy and regeneration.
We recently started to describe the growth and dynamics of microvilli during C. elegans development (Bidaud-Meynard et al, PMID: 34704594). We will next characterize how major microvilli components contribute to microvilli growth and maintenance and how their dynamic localization and behaviour are regulated during microvilli formation. To this end, we will use loss of function approaches and analyse the role of microvilli factors using a combination of super-resolution imaging, FRAP measurements and food absorption experiments. We will investigate the role of microvilli factors that we and others have already identified, as well as new microvilli components identified by our collaborator Mike Boxem (Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands) using a proteomic approach. This project will lead to the first in-depth functional characterization of microvilli growth and maintenance in a living organism during embryonic and post-embryonic development, paving the way to future studies as a model for human intestinal diseases.