Siric > Research > Institutes > Cell Biology Research Institute of Montpellier (CRBM)

logoDirector: Anne DEBANT

General Presentation

The Cell Biology Research Institute of Montpellier (UMR 5237) has been created by the CNRS in 1966 and is dedicated to basic and translational research in biochemistry and cell biology. Its main goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms controlling cell division, adhesion and signalling with a specific focus on cancer biology.  It also aims at elucidating how post-translational modifications of proteins control these cellular processes.

The CRBM is composed of around 170 members including 48 researchers and professors/assistant professors and 30 engineers/technicians. The CRBM currently includes 17 independent research groups, thanks to the moving of CRBM in a new building, which allowed the recruitment of 7 new teams. Junior teams have been supported by the prestigious ATIP/AVENIR programme promoted by CNRS and INSERM and senior teams by research programmes launched by CNRS, FRM and ANR agencies, Fondation Bettancourt-Schuller, and by the Labex Epigenemed. These teams strengthen the main research activities of CRBM in cell biology (cell division and adhesion) and biochemistry (post-translational modifications).

Research objectives and scientific production

The CRBM has made a seminal contribution in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating cell division. In the 80’s, Prof M Dorée has identified the Mitosis Promoting Fa


ctor MPF as the cyclin B-Cdc2 complex. This major discovery allowed these researchers to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms that ensure cell division and has attracted many talented researchers in this topic at CRBM. Recently, they uncovered a major role of the Greatwall kinase in the modulation of this MPF activity, which opens up new avenues in the investigation of the control of mitosis and the development of novel anti-mitotic drugs.

The CRBM has also made several significant achievements in the central role of Rho GTPases and tyrosine kinases in the regulation of cell morphology and adhesion, with a specific focus on intracellular signalling induced by adhesive and growth factor receptors. An unexpected role of p53 isoforms in the promotion of epithelial cell migration has been also established. Deregulation of these signalling pathways play crucial roles during metastatic progression and CRBM develops innovative anti-cancer strategies targeting these pathways, ie inhibitors for these oncogenic protein kinases, splicing factors and Rho GTPases regulators.

CRBM team publishes more than 60 scientific papers per year in high-impact factor journals. The best CRBM publications land in Science, Nature and Cell press, J Cell Biol, PNAS, EMBO J and journals of cell biology and cancer.

Facilities and platforms

To support its research in biochemistry and cell biology, the CRBM has consolidated 3 high-performance platforms:

  • MRI-CRBM which belongs to the multi-site technological imaging platform MRI
  • CRBM hosts an aquatic animal house (ascidians, zebrafish and xenopus laevis).
  • CRBM hosts a facility of polyclonal antibody production

Valorisation and collaborations

CRBM activity also shows a significant technology transfer to medicine, with 24 patents accepted or submitted since 2013. CRBM demonstrates several collaborations at the national and international level with several outstanding research laboratories and universities in molecular and cell biology (Barcelona, Dundee, McGill, Flinders and KU Leuven Universities, IMB of Mainz, DKFZ of Heidelberg, Erasmus Medical Centre of Rotterdam, Nagoya Medical Centre, NIH of Bethesda and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to name a few).