Yu-Chiun Wang

  • Co-PI
RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research
Team Leader
Research Areas
Cel biology; Developmental biology; Mechanobiology
Drosophila genetics; cell/tissue mechanics; mechanical polarity; mechanical phase transition

Related Outline

The central question in developmental biology is how cells, tissues and organs acquire their specific functions and shapes. A large body of work over the past several decades has yielded a broad understanding of how functional specialization is achieved through differential gene expression. In contrast, far less is known about how cell shapes and tissue structures are controlled and remodeled mechanically. Our lab aims at identifying novel mechanisms that orchestrate the formation of three-dimensional epithelial structures. Our long-term goal is to comprehensively understand the mechanistic principles of tissue morphogenesis in order to conceptualize the origin of morphological diversity both within an organism and among evolutionary lineages. We have been focusing on how modifications of epithelial cell polarity control cell shapes using gastrulating Drosophila embryos as the model system. More recently, we began exapnding our inquiries into inter-tissue interaction between morphogenetic fields
, mechanical feedback via nuclei as mechano-sensors, and solid/fluid transition of cytoplasmic and tissue material properties. We employ an integrated approach that combines genetic manipulation, quantitative live imaging and computational mechanical modeling. We are actively engaged in the development of optogenetic and physical methods for mechanical measurements and manipulation. Our lab is international, interdisciplinary, and we work with our collaborators specialized in evolutionary biology, computational mechanics, and theoretical physics to seek a multiscale understanding of epithelial morphogenesis from a variety of different angles.


Yu-Chiun completed his B.Sc. and M.S. at National Taiwan University, Taiwan, and received his doctorate in 2006 from the University of Chicago, U.S.A. under the supervision of Prof. Edwin Ferguson for his work on the regulation of BMP signaling during dorsal-ventral patterning in the Drosophila for which he was awarded the 2007 Larry Sandler Memorial Award for best dissertation of Drosophila research. In 2007, he moved to Princeton University to work as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Eric Wieschaus support from postdoctoral research fellowship from the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation for his work on understanding the mechanisms of the formation of the cephalic furrow and dorsal transverse folds during Drosophila gastrulation. He was appointed Team Leader of the Laboratory for Epithelial Morphogenesis at RIKEN CDB in 2013 and RIKEN BDR in 2018.

Representative Achievements

  • The origin and the mechanism of mechanical polarity during epithelial folding
    Wang, Y.-C.
    Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. (2021)
  • Autonomous epithelial folding induced by an intracellular mechano–polarity feedback loop.
    Wen, F.-L., Kwan, C.W., Wang, Y.-C., Shibata, T.
    PLOS Comput. Biol. 17, e1009614 (2021)
  • Tissue-Scale Mechanical Coupling Reduces Morphogenetic Noise to Ensure Precision during Epithelial Folding
    Eritano, A.S., Bromley, C.L., Albero, A.B., Schütz, L., Wen, F.-L., Takeda, M., Fukaya, T., Sami, M.M., Shibata, T., Lemke, S., Wang, Y.-C.
    Dev. Cell 53, 212-228.e12. (2020)
  • A homeostatic apical microtubule network shortens cells for epithelial folding via a basal polarity shift
    Takeda, M., Sami, M.M., Wang, Y.-C.
    Nat. Cell Biol. 20, 36–45 (2018)
  • Epithelial Folding Driven by Apical or Basal-Lateral Modulation: Geometric Features, Mechanical Inference, and Boundary Effects
    Wen, F.-L., Wang, Y.-C., Shibata, T.
    Biophys. J. 112, 2683–2695 (2017)
  • Distinct Rap1 Activity States Control the Extent of Epithelial Invagination via α-Catenin
    Wang, Y.-C., Khan, Z., Wieschaus, E.F.
    Dev. Cell 25, 299–309 (2013)
  • Differential positioning of adherens junctions is associated with initiation of epithelial folding
    Wang, Y.-C., Khan, Z., Kaschube, M., Wieschaus, E.F.
    Nature 484, 390–393 (2012)
  • Spatial bistability of Dpp-receptor interactions during Drosophila dorsal-ventral patterning
    Wang, Y.-C., Ferguson, E.L.
    Nature 434, 229–234 (2005)