The tissues of multicellular organisms are formed by specialized, individual cells that communicate with each other and distincly shape the organs. In some tissues however, cells directly share some of their inner constituents, forming a tissue architecture called a syncytium. Syncytia can arise of two distinct processes. One process involves that cells fuse to one another: this is the case for the skeletal muscle that enables animals to move. The other process relies on dividing cells to skip the last step of the division process, leaving the two resulting cells physically connected to one another. Interestingly, this latter mechanism for syncytium formation is employed by the germ cells of all animals studied so far, suggesting that this cell type may require such architecture for its proper function. The Labbé group at Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) studies the germ cells of a small nematode worm, termed Caenorhabditis elegans, to understand how syncytial architectures are formed and maintained in all animals.
An article written by Jack Bauer (PhD student) and Dr. Jean-Claude Labbé, researcher at the Université de Montréal.