Mechanisms of sensory map development


Team leader : Xavier Nicol

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We study the local and temporal coding of cellular signals signaling molecules during regulating the development of neuronal networks and sensory maps with particular interest in the connection between the retina and the brain.


The mature nervous system is an intricate network in which neurons are connected to specific partners. The choice of these partners is crucial for the correct behavior of the network, i.e. the nervous system, and is determined at early stages of development. Abnormal development of neuronal connections is responsible for a large range of neuronal pathologies, some of which affect vision.

We use specialized imaging techniques to identify intracellular signal codes that guide retinal axons to the brain and shape their arbors in their targets. We focus on signals required for axons to detect and interpret attractive and repulsive cues of axonal environment or signals involved in axonal and synaptic competition.
We previously identified a set of intracellular signaling pathways that regulate the development of sensory maps, including cyclic nucleotide- and calcium-dependent pathways. These second messengers are crucial for neuronal network wiring, but they are also involved in a wide range of other signaling pathways. Our group focuses on decrypting cAMP, cGMP, and calcium codes that enable these intracellular signals to achieve specificity for the processes regulating neuronal connectivity, including axon guidance and synaptic competition.

Research areas

  • Describing connectivity development in the nervous system.

  • Identifying second messenger network integrating cues that shape sensory maps (focusing on axon guidance and axonal/synaptic competition).

  • Decrypting intracellular codes of second messenger systems.

  • Understanding the coding strategies used by axons to specifically link a cyclic nucleotide or calcium signal to its downstream pathway.




  • ANR
  • Fondation de france
    Fondation de france
  • Voir et entendre
    Voir et entendre
  • Sorbonne

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