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Accueil > EN > Research Areas > Complex Systems Dynamics > BIological Systems > Biophotonics


par Laurent Héliot - publié le

Main cell functions, such as gene expression, intracellular trafficking, cell signaling rely upon molecular dynamics and interactions. The analysis of these molecular events is of major importance for understanding cell regulation or mobility as well as tissue morphogenesis in normal and pathological conditions. The localization of these molecular events in single cells and living organisms, their measurement and quantification are essentially based on new developments in microscopy. These developments are so far limited by technological constraints (probes, targeting, detection, sensitivity, phototoxicity, image analysis, modelling).

Biophotonics has recently emerged at the international level as a new interdisciplinary field. It takes advantage of photon / living matter interactions to explore and manipulate living systems. Our goal is to imagine, develop and make available novel technologies and methods for real-time imaging of molecular dynamics and interactions in living cells. To conduct this development we focus on the dynamics of gene expression regulatory networks controlling cell fate during adaptative responses to stress and circadian oscillation. The team is composed of cellular and molecular biologists, physicists, Instrumentalists and computer scientists and we collaborate with mathematicians (P. Heinrich, J.Kahn of Lab Painlevé, C. Garnier of Telecom-Lille and P. Bas, P. Chainais of Centrale Lille).

(A) Instrumental developments : TCSPC setup. (B) Software development : fluorescence lifetime visualization through the MAPI software. (C) Stimulated Raman imaging : copepod (crustacean) CARS image at 2845 cm-1. (D) Fluorescence use : energy transfer(FRET) ratios measurements thanks to fluorescence biosensors.

To explore the molecular complexity of living cells, the Biophotonic group aims at developing multimodal microscopy tools based on fluorescence labels (FLIM, FCS, FCCS, RICS, FRET...) or non linear optics such as stimulated Raman imaging (CARS or SRS) ; simultaneously we develop data processing and treatment software (TITAN and MAPI). This work, previously developed in IRI, is supported by funds from the CPER "Campus Inteligence Ambiante" and "Photonics4Society", ANR "DynamIC, "GalFish" and "G2Progress"and three industrial licenses. Additionally, we are contributing in the "ImagIngEx BioMed" Equipex project and BiCeL imaging platform (led by F.Lafont), by the development of High Content System of Microscopy with FLIM and FCS / FCCS modules. In addition to our work on transcriptional regulation we are working with external teams to apply our developments on other biological themes (J. Salamero , A, Harduin - Lepers, N. Prevaskaya , O. Gavet, P. Lefebvre,...). For new collaborations, please contact Laurent Héliot.

In addition, we take an active part in the life of the French Microscopy Network GDR "Microscopie et Imagerie du Vivant" ( (led by L. Heliot) and technical network RTMFM ( and in the organization of the national Biophotonics school of CNRS : MiFoBIO (

Significant publications :

  • PRC1 components exhibit different binding kinetics in Polycomb bodies
    Bernard Vandenbunder, Nicolas Fourré, Aymeric Leray, Florian Mueller, Pamela Völkel, Pierre-Olivier Angrand and Laurent Héliot - Biology of the Cell, 106(4):111–125 (2014).
  • Application of a high power Yb fiber-based compatible with commercial optical parametric oscillator for coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy
    C-H. Hage, S. Boisset, A. Ibrahim, F. Morin, C. Hoenninger, T. Grunske, S. Souissi, L. Héliot and A. Leray - Microscopy Research and Techniques, 77:422-430 (2014).
  • The Elongation Complex Components BRD4 and MLLT3/AF9 Are Transcriptional Coactivators of Nuclear Retinoid Receptors
    S. Flajollet, C. Rachez, M. Ploton, C. Schulz, R. Gallais, R. Métivier, M. Pawlak, A. Leray, A.Issulahi, L. Héliot, B. Staels, G. Salbert, P. Lefebvre - PLoS One, 8:e64880 (2013).
  • Quantitative Comparison of Polar Approach Versus Fitting Method in Time Domain FLIM Image Analysis
    A. Leray, C. Spriet, D. Trinel, R. Blossey, Y. Usson and L. Heliot - Cytometry Part A, 79:149-158 (2011).
  • Concurrent fast and slow cycling of a transcriptional activator at an endogenous promoter
    T.S. Karpova, M.J. Kim, C. Spriet, K. Nalley, T.J. Stasevich, Z. Kherrouche, L. Heliot and J.G. McNally - Science, 319:466-469 (2008).
  • Spatially distributed two-photon excitation fluorescence in scattering media : experiments and time-resolved Monte Carlo simulations
    A. Leray, C. Odin, E. Huguet, F. Amblard and Y. Le Grand - Opt. Commun., 272:269–278 (2007).
  • Setup and characterization of a multiphoton FLIM instrument for protein-protein interaction measurements in living cells
    F. Waharte, C. Spriet and L. Heliot - Cytomerty Part A, 69A:299-306 (2006).