Olivier Devergne

Assistant professor

Research Interests

Epithelial tissues, composed of epithelial cells, are the most common type of tissue in the human body. They form the outer layer of skin, organs, and glands (e.g. mammary gland), and regulate uptake of nutrients (e.g. small intestine) and gas exchange (e.g. lung). The development and normal physiology of multicellular organisms relies on the presence and proper function of epithelial tissue. Epithelia are characterized by their organization as sheets of tightly adherent cells that have a specific architecture called apical-basal polarity. The cellular basis to accomplish their functions is provided by this polarized architecture. Loss of this organization has significant detrimental consequences, such as developmental defects and cancer.  The basement membrane, a specialized sheet of the extracellular matrix, is secreted basally by epithelial cells and is a major regulator of epithelial polarity, tissue organization, and organ morphogenesis. Importantly, the loss of integrity and misregulation of the basement membrane have been associated with cancer and tumor metastasis (i.e. spreading). Despite the significance of the basement membrane in both normal and abnormal epithelial cells, the molecular mechanisms ensuring the accurate basal secretion of basement membrane proteins remain largely elusive. 

My research seeks to understand a fundamental question in cell biology: the mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of epithelial cell polarity. In particular, my laboratory is interested in the genes and cellular pathways require for the polarized secretion of basement membrane proteins in epithelial cells. 

To study polarized basement membrane deposition, my laboratory is using the follicular epithelium of the Drosophila ovary as a model system. Since animal development requires many of the essential cellular pathways involved in disease progression, Drosophila is an ideal model system to study fundamental cell processes, including basement membrane deposition. In addition, the extensive genetics toolbox available in Drosophila, makes it a very powerful model to identify genes dedicated in the proper deposition of basement membrane. My laboratory is also dedicated to extend our knowledge to human epithelial cells, as the basement membrane has a known role in cancer progression and metastasis. 

Prospective Students

I am currently looking for highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students who are eager to learn rigorous scientific reasoning, and to acquire basic and advanced research skills in cell biology, molecular biology, genetics and microscopy. Please contact me by email (odevergne@niu.edu) to discuss available opportunities.

Representative Publications

# designates undergraduate author

Devergne O., Sun G. H.# and Schüpbach T. (2017). Stratum, a Homolog of the Human GEF Mss4, Partnered with Rab8, Controls the Basal Restriction of Basement Membrane Proteins in Epithelial Cells. Cell Reports, 18 (8): 1831-1839.

Devergne O., Tsung K.#, Barcelo G. and Schüpbach T. (2014). Polarized deposition of basement membrane proteins depends on Phosphatidylinositol synthase and the levels of Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111 (21): 7689-7694.

Ghiglione C., Devergne O., Cerezo D. and Noselli S. (2008). Drosophila RalA is essential for the maintenance of Jak/Stat signalling in ovarian follicles. EMBO Reports, 9 (7): 676-82.

Devergne O., Ghiglione C. and Noselli S. (2007). The endocytic control of JAK/STAT signalling in Drosophila. Journal of Cell Science, 120 (19): 3457-3464.

Ghiglione C.*, Devergne O.*, Georgenthum E., Carballès F., Medioni C., Cerezo D. and Noselli S.  (2002). The Drosophila cytokine receptor Domeless controls border cell migration and epithelial polarization during oogenesis. Development, 129 (23): 5437-5447. (* Co-first authors)



Curriculm Vitae


Postdoc., 2009 – 2018, Princeton University.

Postdoc., 2007 – 2009, Yale School of Medicine.

Ph.D., 2006, Université (University of) Nice Sophia Antipolis, France.                                                 

M.S., 2002, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France.                                                                             

B.S., 2000, Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France.

Fields of Interest

Cell and Developmental Biology, Epithelial Cell Polarity.


Olivier Devergne
Office: MO 342 (815) 753-7446
Lab:  MO 413 & 414
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115