The publications from the Wyart lab are accessible on our website here:

Find out recent news on twitter: Claire's @ClaireWyart and the lab @wyartlab

Our lab combines genetics, biophysics, physiology & behavior to understand how sensory inputs are integrated in the spinal cord during development and active locomotion. The lab discovered that neurons contacting the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the spinal cord are mechanoreceptors detecting curvature of the spinal cord and CSF flow, which modulate the activity of spinal neurons controlling locomotion and posture. We use the transparent zebrafish larva to implement optical methods for manipulating and monitoring neuronal activity in motion. Our work aims to unravel the mechanisms by which interoceptive sensory inputs are integrated throughout life to form the spinal cord, and insure homeostasis in the mature stages.

Three permanent researchers in the team:

Dr. Claire Wyart graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure Ulm in 2000. Under the supervision of Laurent Bourdieu and Didier Chatenay, she obtained her PhD in biophysics and neuroscience from the University of Strasbourg and moved to University of California in Berkeley for her postdoc. In the lab of Udi Isacoff, she developed optical techniques to control activity of neurons remotely in vivo (optogenetics). Dr. Wyart is EMBO Young investigator & EMBO full member, New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Robertson Investigator, FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence (FKNE) Scholar and Board member. Commitment to science outreach and training in science:;

Dr. Yasmine Cantaut-Belarif is a permanent researcher at CNRS since 2020. She did her PhD with Antoine Triller in the Ecole Normale Supérieure Ulm. During her postdoctorate fellowship in the Wyart's team between 2017 and 2020, she demonstrated the role of the Reissner fiber in the formation of the axis. Her research now tackles the molecular mechanisms by which the fiber can control the straightness of the body axis.

Prof. Hugues Pascal-Moussellard is a MD PhD and surgeon in charge of the orthopedic department of the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris 13. He conducts with Laura Marie Hardy, Thomas Courtin and Prof. Alexis Brice a project aiming to decipher mutations associated with idiopathic scoliosis in humans.


Neuromodulation in the hindbrain and spinal cord

Arousal locomotion is strongly modulated by our inner physiological states. This spontaneous exploratory locomotion reflects the excitability of motor circuits in the spinal cord as well as descending commands from the brain, in particular from the hindbrain. The underlying mechanisms controlling the occurrence of spontaneous locomotion and its natural variability among animals and across physiological states within one animal are not well understood. On one end, we are interested in probing neuromodulatory pathways in the hindbrain and spinal cord for setting the frequency of occurrence of locomotion in the context of circadian rhythm, inflammation and feeding. On the other, we investigate how neuromodulation can influence morphogenesis.

Modulation of motor circuits via the cerebrospinal fluid

The classical view of spinal cord physiology relies on the fact that motor functions are carried by ventral spinal cord while dorsal spinal cord integrates sensory inputs from the periphery. Up to recently, there was no evidence that the vertebrate spinal cord hosts sensory cells conserved throughout vertebrates. Our team has shown evidence for a central sensory motor loop localized in the spinal cord and modulating circuits underlying locomotion and posture. We have evidence that the morphology and molecular markers of this central sensory system is conserved in the mammalian spinal cord. This axial sensory system modulates locomotion, posture and morphogenesis.

Sensory integration in the spinal cord throughout life

The contribution of mechanosensory feedback to active locomotion and the nature of underlying spinal circuits remain elusive. We investigate how mechanosensory feedback shapes active locomotion in the zebrafish larva. We find that mechanosensory feedback enhances the recruitment of motor pools during active locomotion. We show that inputs from glutamatergic mechanosensory neurons increase locomotor speed by prolonging fast swimming at the expense of slow swimming during stereotyped acoustic escape responses.

Moreover we have evidence that sensory integration is critical throughout life for growing and maintaining a straight body axis.

Altogether, our efforts reveal the basic principles and circuit diagram underlying the modulation of movement, posture and morphogenesis by adjusted mechanosensory feedback in the vertebrate spinal cord.





Wyart Lab

Spinal Sensory Signaling


47, bld de l'hopital

Paris 75013 - FRANCE