Dominique Alfandari

Dominique Alfandari, Ph.D.

Professor of Developmental Biology


427B ISB

Mailing address: 

661 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, Mass 01003

Office phone: 


Lab phone: 




Movie is a model of ADAM13 protein. The Metalloprotease domain is grey, Disintegrin in Blue, Cystein rich in purple, EGF repeat in green.

Ph.D.: University of Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris 6 (France), 1994
Postdoctoral Training: University of Virginia, Department of Cell Biology 

Previous positions: Maitre de conference UPMC 1996-2000 (Tenure), Research Instructor UVA 2000-2003

Awards: Predoctoral fellowship MRT 1991-1994.
Post doctoral fellowship FRM 1995-1996.
RO1DE14365 (2001-6),  
RO1DE16289 (2006-2023
NSF 0544015 (2005-08), 
NIH R24OD021485 (2017-2021), 
NIH RO1DE02634 (2018-2023 PI Moody, co-I Alfandari).

*Active grants are underlined.


ANIMLSCI 390E - Fundamental Vertebrate Embryology

ANIMLSCI 697J - Cell, Genes and Development

ANIMLSCI 795A - Journal Club in Cells, Genes and Development

Research Interests

Craniofacial Development

The Alfandari lab studies how the face of vertebrate embryos is built. The main source of cells for this process are the Cranial Neural Crest Cells (CNC), which are induced at the border of the neural plate (Future brain and spinal chord) and move ventrally to produce the bones, cartilage, muscles and ganglia of the face. 


Happening now:

New RO1 with our collaboartor Dr. Sally Mody to study the role of Six1 partners in Craniofacial development and Branciootorenal spectrum disorder.

Renewal of our long term RO1 to study the mechanism of Cranial neural crest cell migration.

Also a New NIH grant to produce and characterize 100 monoclonal antibodies to Xenopus protein for the scientific community.

Here is the link to the most current list of antibodies and their target.

Our latest BIG paper published in E-Life shows how ADAM can regulate gene expression.

Alban Gaultier, an Alfandari lab Alumni now Assistant Professor at UVA made the news. Congrat Alban!!

We are recruiting:

         Project 1: To study the interaction between the transcription factor Arid3a and the ADAM metalloproteases

         Project 2: To identify partners of the transcription factor Six1 in Xenopus embryos

         Project 3: To produce and characterise monoclonal antibody. This project is excellent for students interested in industry rather than academia.


 The following movies show cranial neural crest cell migration in vivo (in the embryo) or in vitro (In a dish). In vivo the neural crest were labeled with a fluorescent marker before they were grafted into a host embryo.



How does a cell move? Cells move all the time in our bodies, to repair wounds, to attack pathogens, to fight cancer or in some cases to allow cancer to spread and invade new organs. In embryos, cells move great distances to produce the various shapes and complex organs.

We study how cells move in a developing embryo. More specifically, how do they start? How do they know where to go, where and when to stop? One of the best examples of cell movement (see movie) is the migration of cranial neural crest cells. They are borne at the border between the neural and non-neural ectoderm in the dorsal side of the embryo and migrate to the ventral side of the embryo to create all of the structures of the face (bones, cartilage, muscle and ganglia).

Our laboratory is funded by the NIH (NIDCR) to understand how metalloproteases that are expressed at the surface of the cranial neural crest help these cells move. We aim to understand which proteins are cut by these proteases and how this cleavage changes the function of these target proteins to favor cell movement. Clearly if these proteases can promote cell migration in the embryo, they may also promote cancer cell dispersion (Metastasis) so that understanding how they work and how we can stop their function may also lead to new approaches to cancer treatment.

The Alfandari lab in the news.

Previous members of the lab


Lab Personnel

Name Email Phone Office
Idzal, Angelina
ABBS Graduate Student
aidzal [at] 413-545-3739 455 ISB
Pandey, Ankit
Graduate Student - ABBS
ankitpandey [at] 413-545-3739 ISB 455


Keer, S., Cousin, H., Jourdeuil, K., Neilson, K. M., Tavares, A. L. P., Alfandari, D., & Moody, S. A.. (2022). Mcrs1 is required for branchial arch and cranial cartilage development. Dev Biol, 489, 62-75. presented at the 2022 09. doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2022.06.002
Cousin, H., & Alfandari, D.. (2018). Cranial Neural Crest Explants. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2018, pdb.prot097394. Retrieved from
Moody, S. A., Neilson, K. M., Kenyon, K. L., Alfandari, D., & Pignoni, F.. (2015). Using Xenopus to discover new genes involved in branchiootorenal spectrum disorders. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology {&} Pharmacology, 178, 16–24. presented at the dec. Retrieved from
Bajanca, F., Alfandari, D., Thorsteinsdóttir, S., & Théveneau, E.. (2015). Editorial: Cell adhesion in development. Dev Biol, 401(1), 1. presented at the 2015 May 1.
Cousin, H., & Alfandari, D.. (2011). ADAM and cell migration: the unexpected role of the cytoplasmic domain. Médecine sciences : M/S, 27(12), 1069-71. presented at the 2011 Dec.
Neuner, R., Cousin, H., McCusker, C., Coyne, M., & Alfandari, D.. (2009). Xenopus ADAM19 is involved in neural, neural crest and muscle development. Mechanisms of development, 126(3-4), 240-55. presented at the 2009 Mar-Apr.
Coyne, M. J., Cousin, H., Loftus, J. P., Johnson, P. J., Belknap, J. K., Gradil, C. M., et al.. (2009). Cloning and expression of ADAM-related metalloproteases in equine laminitis. Veterinary immunology and immunopathology, 129(3-4), 231-41. presented at the 2009 Jun 15.
Alfandari, D., McCusker, C., & Cousin, H.. (2009). ADAM function in embryogenesis. Seminars in cell & developmental biology, 20(2), 153-63. presented at the 2009 Apr.
McCusker, C. D., & Alfandari, D.. (2009). Life after proteolysis: Exploring the signaling capabilities of classical cadherin cleavage fragments. Communicative & integrative biology, 2(2), 155-7. presented at the 2009.
Cousin, H., Desimone, D. W., & Alfandari, D.. (2008). PACSIN2 regulates cell adhesion during gastrulation in Xenopus laevis. Developmental biology, 319(1), 86-99. presented at the 2008 Jul 1.