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Edwin M. Munro

TitleProfessor
InstitutionUniversity of Chicago
DepartmentMolecular Genetics and Cell Biology
AddressChicago IL 60637
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    We study how embryos integrate biochemical signaling, cytoskeletal dynamics and cell mechanics to orchestrate complex cell and tissue behaviors. We combine live imaging, genetic perturbations, biophysical analysis, and computer simulations to address questions in three main areas: Dynamic control of self-organized actomyosin contractility, cell polarization in C. elegans, and tissue morphogenesis in aascidians

    The forces that shape embryonic cells and tissues are produced by dynamic contractile networks of actin filaments, myosin motors and cross-linking proteins. The big challenge is to understand how embryonic cells remodel these networks by tuning network assembly, architecture and motor activity to do a sequence of different jobs – to polarize, move, change shape and divide. To address this challenge, we combine in vivo studies in C. elegans with computer simulations, focusing on three specific examples: the long range flows that polarize cells, self assembly of the contractile ring during cytokinesis, and dynamic control of pulsatile contractions that coordinate cell shape change and rearrangements during morphogenesis.

    We also use C. elegans embryos as a model system to explore how cells form and stabilize polarity in response to transient polarizing cues. In recent years, we (and others) have uncovered a network of biochemical and mechanical interactions involving conserved PAR polarity proteins, small Rho family GTPases, and the acvtomyosin cytoskeleton, that do this job. We combine single molecule imaging, genetic manipulations and biophysical analysis to characterize key elements of this “mechanochemical circuit”, and to probe the fundamental design principles that allow this circuit to do it's job in such an extraordinarily robust way.

    Finally, we use ascidians (“sea squirts”) as a simple model system to study how embryos organize force production in space and time to shape tissues and organs. Ascidians make the many of the same structures that we do - e.g. a notochord, a simple gut and a neural tube, but they do so with very few (tens of) cells, in small optically clear embryos, that are highly accessible to genetic, pharmacological and physical manipulations. We currently focus on neural tube closure. Combining experiments with computer simulations, we ask how embryos use tissue-specific gene expression and conserved pathways for planar and apico-basal polarity to pattern actomyosin contractility in space and time to shape and close the neural tube.
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    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    Hampshire College, Amherst, MABA05/1987Mathematics and Biology
    University of Washington, Seattle, WAPhD01/2000Cell and Developmental Biology
    Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WaPostdoctoral fellow02/2002Cell Biology

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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Lang CF, Munro EM. Oligomerization of peripheral membrane proteins provides tunable control of cell surface polarity. Biophys J. 2022 12 06; 121(23):4543-4559. PMID: 36815706; PMCID: PMC9750853.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    2. Williams AM, Donoughe S, Munro E, Horne-Badovinac S. Fat2 polarizes the WAVE complex in trans to align cell protrusions for collective migration. Elife. 2022 09 26; 11. PMID: 36154691; PMCID: PMC9576270.
      Citations: 7     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    3. Staddon MF, Munro EM, Banerjee S. Pulsatile contractions and pattern formation in excitable actomyosin cortex. PLoS Comput Biol. 2022 03; 18(3):e1009981. PMID: 35353813; PMCID: PMC9000090.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    4. Yao B, Donoughe S, Michaux J, Munro E. Modulating RhoA effectors induces transitions to oscillatory and more wavelike RhoA dynamics in Caenorhabditis elegans zygotes. Mol Biol Cell. 2022 05 15; 33(6):ar58. PMID: 35138935; PMCID: PMC9265151.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. Li Y, Munro E. Filament-guided filament assembly provides structural memory of filament alignment during cytokinesis. Dev Cell. 2021 09 13; 56(17):2486-2500.e6. PMID: 34480876; PMCID: PMC8485139.
      Citations: 11     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    6. Munro E, Heemskerk I, Warmflash A, Bocanegra-Moreno L, Kishi K, Kicheva A, Saunders TE, Michaut A, Gros J, Maroudas-Sacks Y, Keren K, Hannezo E, Gartner ZJ, Stormo B, Gladfelter A, Rodrigues A, Shyer A, Di Talia S, Khamaisi B, Sprinzak D, Tlili S, Lenne PF, Long Y, Fruleux A, Boudaoud A, Caldarelli P, Minc N, Maître JL. Roadmap for the multiscale coupling of biochemical and mechanical signals during development. Phys Biol. 2021 04 14; 18(4). PMID: 33276350; PMCID: PMC8380410.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    7. Weirich KL, Stam S, Munro E, Gardel ML. Actin bundle architecture and mechanics regulate myosin II force generation. Biophys J. 2021 05 18; 120(10):1957-1970. PMID: 33798565; PMCID: PMC8204393.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    8. Munro E, Heisenberg CP, Godard BG, Dumollard R, Chenevert J, Hebras C, McDougall A. Apical Relaxation during Mitotic Rounding Promotes Tension-Oriented Cell Division. Dev Cell. 2020 12 21; 55(6):695-706.e4. PMID: 33207225.
      Citations: 9     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    9. Chen W, Hu Y, Lang CF, Brown JS, Schwabach S, Song X, Zhang Y, Munro E, Bennett K, Zhang D, Lee HC. The Dynamics of P Granule Liquid Droplets Are Regulated by the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline RNA Helicase GLH-1 via Its ATP Hydrolysis Cycle. Genetics. 2020 Jun 01; 215(2):421-434. PMID: 33954500.
      Citations:    
    10. Chen W, Hu Y, Lang CF, Brown JS, Schwabach S, Song X, Zhang Y, Munro E, Bennett K, Zhang D, Lee HC. The Dynamics of P Granule Liquid Droplets Are Regulated by the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline RNA Helicase GLH-1 via Its ATP Hydrolysis Cycle. Genetics. 2020 06; 215(2):421-434. PMID: 32245789; PMCID: PMC7268986.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    11. Cavanaugh KE, Staddon MF, Munro E, Banerjee S, Gardel ML. RhoA Mediates Epithelial Cell Shape Changes via Mechanosensitive Endocytosis. Dev Cell. 2020 01 27; 52(2):152-166.e5. PMID: 31883774; PMCID: PMC7565439.
      Citations: 46     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    12. Hashimoto H, Munro E. Differential Expression of a Classic Cadherin Directs Tissue-Level Contractile Asymmetry during Neural Tube Closure. Dev Cell. 2019 10 21; 51(2):158-172.e4. PMID: 31639367; PMCID: PMC7458479.
      Citations: 16     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    13. Staddon MF, Cavanaugh KE, Munro EM, Gardel ML, Banerjee S. Mechanosensitive Junction Remodeling Promotes Robust Epithelial Morphogenesis. Biophys J. 2019 11 05; 117(9):1739-1750. PMID: 31635790; PMCID: PMC6838884.
      Citations: 25     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    14. Munro E, Bailles A, Collinet C, Philippe JM, Lenne PF, Lecuit T. Genetic induction and mechanochemical propagation of a morphogenetic wave. Nature. 2019 08; 572(7770):467-473. PMID: 31413363; PMCID: PMC8985608.
      Citations: 50     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    15. Munro E. Anillin Puts RhoA in Touch with PIP2. Dev Cell. 2019 06 17; 49(6):819-820. PMID: 31211987.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    
    16. Michaux JB, McFadden WM, Munro EM, Robin FB. Excitable RhoA dynamics drive pulsed contractions in the early C. elegans embryo. J Cell Biol. 2018 12 03; 217(12):4230-4252. PMID: 30275107; PMCID: PMC6279378.
      Citations: 64     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    17. Wu Y, Han B, Li Y, Munro E, Odde DJ, Griffin EE. Rapid diffusion-state switching underlies stable cytoplasmic gradients in the Caenorhabditis elegans zygote. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 09 04; 115(36):E8440-E8449. PMID: 30042214; PMCID: PMC6130366.
      Citations: 23     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Hashimoto H, Munro E. Dynamic interplay of cell fate, polarity and force generation in ascidian embryos. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2018 08; 51:67-77. PMID: 30007244; PMCID: PMC6543843.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    19. McFadden WM, McCall PM, Gardel ML, Munro EM. Filament turnover tunes both force generation and dissipation to control long-range flows in a model actomyosin cortex. PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 12; 13(12):e1005811. PMID: 29253848; PMCID: PMC5757993.
      Citations: 20     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. Lang CF, Munro E. The PAR proteins: from molecular circuits to dynamic self-stabilizing cell polarity. Development. 2017 10 01; 144(19):3405-3416. PMID: 28974638; PMCID: PMC5665476.
      Citations: 63     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    21. Munro E. Protein Clustering Shapes Polarity Protein Gradients. Dev Cell. 2017 08 21; 42(4):309-311. PMID: 28829939.
      Citations: 6     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    22. Sailer A, Anneken A, Li Y, Lee S, Munro E. Dynamic Opposition of Clustered Proteins Stabilizes Cortical Polarity in the C. elegans Zygote. Dev Cell. 2015 Oct 12; 35(1):131-42. PMID: 26460948; PMCID: PMC5963695.
      Citations: 34     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    23. Munro E, Munjal A, Philippe JM, Lecuit T. A self-organized biomechanical network drives shape changes during tissue morphogenesis. Nature. 2015 Aug 20; 524(7565):351-5. PMID: 26214737.
      Citations: 173     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    24. Stam S, Alberts J, Gardel ML, Munro E. Isoforms Confer Characteristic Force Generation and Mechanosensation by Myosin II Filaments. Biophys J. 2015 Apr 21; 108(8):1997-2006. PMID: 25902439; PMCID: PMC4407263.
      Citations: 33     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    25. Hashimoto H, Robin FB, Sherrard KM, Munro EM. Sequential contraction and exchange of apical junctions drives zippering and neural tube closure in a simple chordate. Dev Cell. 2015 Jan 26; 32(2):241-55. PMID: 25625209.
      Citations: 54     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    26. Alberts J, Munro E, Markova O, Lenne PF. Clustering of low-valence particles: structure and kinetics. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2014 Aug; 90(2):022301. PMID: 25215732.
      Citations:    Fields:    
    27. McFadden WM, Yao B, Munro EM, Robin FB. Single-molecule analysis of cell surface dynamics in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Nat Methods. 2014 Jun; 11(6):677-82. PMID: 24727651; PMCID: PMC4046709.
      Citations: 40     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    28. Kim T, Gardel ML, Munro E. Determinants of fluidlike behavior and effective viscosity in cross-linked actin networks. Biophys J. 2014 Feb 04; 106(3):526-34. PMID: 24507593; PMCID: PMC3944977.
      Citations: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    29. Alberts J, Munro E, Markova O, Lenne PF. Bond flexibility and low valence promote finite clusters of self-aggregating particles. Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Aug 17; 109(7):078101. PMID: 23006403.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    
    30. Dawes AT, Munro EM. PAR-3 oligomerization may provide an actin-independent mechanism to maintain distinct par protein domains in the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. Biophys J. 2011 Sep 21; 101(6):1412-22. PMID: 21943422; PMCID: PMC3177071.
      Citations: 25     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    31. Horne-Badovinac S, Munro E. Developmental biology. Tubular transformations. Science. 2011 Jul 15; 333(6040):294-5. PMID: 21764735.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    32. Munro E, Lecuit T, Lenne PF. Force generation, transmission, and integration during cell and tissue morphogenesis. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2011; 27:157-84. PMID: 21740231.
      Citations: 218     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    33. Hoyos E, Kim K, Milloz J, Barkoulas M, Munro E, Pénigault JB, Félix MA. Quantitative variation in autocrine signaling and pathway crosstalk in the Caenorhabditis vulval network. Curr Biol. 2011 Apr 12; 21(7):527-38. PMID: 21458263; PMCID: PMC3084603.
      Citations: 30     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    34. Lemaire P, Munro E, Sherrard K, Robin F. Sequential activation of apical and basolateral contractility drives ascidian endoderm invagination. Curr Biol. 2010 Sep 14; 20(17):1499-510. PMID: 20691592; PMCID: PMC4088275.
      Citations: 95     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    35. Munro E, Bowerman B. Cellular symmetry breaking during Caenorhabditis elegans development. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2009 Oct; 1(4):a003400. PMID: 20066102; PMCID: PMC2773627.
      Citations: 52     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    36. Munro E, Bellaïche Y. Pushing the frontiers of development. Development. 2009 Jan; 136(2):173-7. PMID: 19103801.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    37. Shi W, Peyrot SM, Munro E, Levine M. FGF3 in the floor plate directs notochord convergent extension in the Ciona tadpole. Development. 2009 Jan; 136(1):23-8. PMID: 19036800; PMCID: PMC2685959.
      Citations: 23     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    38. Gallo CM, Munro E, Rasoloson D, Merritt C, Seydoux G. Processing bodies and germ granules are distinct RNA granules that interact in C. elegans embryos. Dev Biol. 2008 Nov 01; 323(1):76-87. PMID: 18692039.
      Citations: 79     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    39. Baruni JK, Munro EM, von Dassow G. Cytokinetic furrowing in toroidal, binucleate and anucleate cells in C. elegans embryos. J Cell Sci. 2008 Feb 01; 121(Pt 3):306-16. PMID: 18198185.
      Citations: 13     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    40. Munro E. Asymmetric cell division: a CAB driver for spindle movements. Curr Biol. 2007 Aug 21; 17(16):R639-41. PMID: 17714652.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    41. Werner M, Munro E, Glotzer M. Astral signals spatially bias cortical myosin recruitment to break symmetry and promote cytokinesis. Curr Biol. 2007 Aug 07; 17(15):1286-97. PMID: 17669650; PMCID: PMC1978103.
      Citations: 81     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    42. Munro E. The microtubules dance and the spindle poles swing. Cell. 2007 May 04; 129(3):457-8. PMID: 17482539.
      Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    43. Munro E, Lemaire P, Robin F. Cellular morphogenesis in ascidians: how to shape a simple tadpole. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2006 Aug; 16(4):399-405. PMID: 16782323.
      Citations: 19     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    44. Willis JH, Munro E, Lyczak R, Bowerman B. Conditional dominant mutations in the Caenorhabditis elegans gene act-2 identify cytoplasmic and muscle roles for a redundant actin isoform. Mol Biol Cell. 2006 Mar; 17(3):1051-64. PMID: 16407404; PMCID: PMC1382297.
      Citations: 22     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    45. Munro EM. PAR proteins and the cytoskeleton: a marriage of equals. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2006 Feb; 18(1):86-94. PMID: 16364625.
      Citations: 56     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    46. Jiang D, Munro EM, Smith WC. Ascidian prickle regulates both mediolateral and anterior-posterior cell polarity of notochord cells. Curr Biol. 2005 Jan 11; 15(1):79-85. PMID: 15700379.
      Citations: 75     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    47. Munro E, Nance J, Priess JR. Cortical flows powered by asymmetrical contraction transport PAR proteins to establish and maintain anterior-posterior polarity in the early C. elegans embryo. Dev Cell. 2004 Sep; 7(3):413-24. PMID: 15363415.
      Citations: 313     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    48. Nance J, Munro EM, Priess JR. C. elegans PAR-3 and PAR-6 are required for apicobasal asymmetries associated with cell adhesion and gastrulation. Development. 2003 Nov; 130(22):5339-50. PMID: 13129846.
      Citations: 109     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    49. Meir E, Munro EM, Odell GM, Von Dassow G, Meir E, Munro EM, Odell GM, Von Dassow G. Ingeneue: a versatile tool for reconstituting genetic networks, with examples from the segment polarity network. J Exp Zool. 2002 Oct 15; 294(3):216-51. PMID: 12362430.
      Citations: 14     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    50. Meir E, von Dassow G, Munro E, Odell GM. Robustness, flexibility, and the role of lateral inhibition in the neurogenic network. Curr Biol. 2002 May 14; 12(10):778-86. PMID: 12015114.
      Citations: 56     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    51. Munro EM, Odell G. Morphogenetic pattern formation during ascidian notochord formation is regulative and highly robust. Development. 2002 Jan; 129(1):1-12. PMID: 11782396.
      Citations: 27     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    52. Munro EM, Odell GM. Polarized basolateral cell motility underlies invagination and convergent extension of the ascidian notochord. Development. 2002 Jan; 129(1):13-24. PMID: 11782397.
      Citations: 58     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    53. von Dassow G, Meir E, Munro EM, Odell GM. The segment polarity network is a robust developmental module. Nature. 2000 Jul 13; 406(6792):188-92. PMID: 10910359.
      Citations: 315     Fields:    Translation:Animals
    54. von Dassow G, Munro E. Modularity in animal development and evolution: elements of a conceptual framework for EvoDevo. J Exp Zool. 1999 Dec 15; 285(4):307-25. PMID: 10578108.
      Citations: 54     Fields:    Translation:Animals
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