Research  >  Morphogenesis in molecular systems

Morphogenesis in molecular systems

News: We just got an ERC consolidator grant entitled 'Metabolic soft matter with life-like porperties'. It started in june 2018.


We are engineering synthetic chemical systems that reproduce essential dynamic features of networks and populations in biology. The objective of our biomimetic approach is two-fold. On the one hand, by studying simple, physics-like and controllable molecular systems that retain the essential features of their biological analogues we hope to provide new insights on the emergence of complex biological behaviors -such as gene regulation, and morphogenesis. On the other hand, these dynamic molecular systems can be regarded as a new kind of "life-like" materials capable of adapting and responding autonomously to their environment.

To this end we essentially use systems based on nucleic acid hybridization reactions because their reactivity can be easily predicted by, roughly, Watson-Crick pairing rules. More precisely we work we three powerful and complementary experimental systems. 1) The PEN DNA toolbox, a molecular programming language based on short DNA strands and three enzymes that can be kept out of equilibrium for tens of hours. 2) Cell-free transcription translation systems to study in vitro de dynamics of gene regulatory networks. 3) DNA self-assembled nanostructures called DNA origami. We further develop microfluidic and micropatterning techniques for the spatial and temporal control of these reactive systems.

You may find further information in our detailed webpage:

Recent publications

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-Senoussi A, Kashida S, Voituriez R, Galas J-C, Maitra A, Estévez-Torres A, Tunable corrugated patterns in an active gel sheet, PNAS, 2019 Preprint on arxiv


-Urtel G, Van Der Hofstadt M, Galas J-C, Estévez-Torres A,
rEXPAR: an isothermal amplification scheme that is robust to autocatalytic parasites,
ACS Biochemistry, 2019 Preprint on arxiv

-A. Zadorin, Y. Rondelez, G. Gines, V. Dilhas, G. Urtel, A. Zambrano, J.-C. Galas, A. Estevez-Torres, Synthesis and materialization of a reaction-diffusion French flag pattern, Nature chem., 2017 doi:10.1038/nchem.2770 Preprint on arxiv

-G. Gines, A. Zadorin, J.-C Galas, T. Fujii, A. Estevez-Torres, Y. Rondelez, Microscopic agents programmed by DNA circuits, Nature nano, 2017, doi:10.1038/nnano.2016.299

-Lee Tin Wah J, David C, Rudiuk S, Baigl D, Estévez-Torres, A, Observing and Controlling the Folding Pathway of DNA Origami at the Nanoscale, ACS nano, 2016.

-Estevez-Torres A, Biophysics: The expressionist movement, Nature Physics2015. News and views.

-Zambrano A, Zadorin AS, Rondelez Y, Estevez-Torres A, Galas JC, Pursuit-and-evasion reaction- diffusion waves in microreactors with tailored geometry, J. Phys. Chem. B, 119(17) :5349-5355, 2015.

-Zadorin AS, Rondelez Y, Galas J-C, & Estevez-Torres A, Synthesis of programmable reaction-diffusion fronts using DNA catalyzers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2015 114(6). Highlighted in Nature nanotech, Physics and Chemistry world.


-H. W. H. van Roekel, L. H. H. Meijer, Z. C. F. Garza, S. Masroor, A.  Estévez-Torres, Y. Rondelez, A. Zagaris, M. A. Peletier, P. A. J. Hilbers, T. F. A. de Greef, Automated Design of Programmable Enzyme-Driven DNA Circuits, ACS Synth. Biol. 2014.

-Padirac, A.; Fujii, T.; Estévez-Torres, A.; Rondelez, Y., Spatial Waves in Synthetic Biochemical Networks J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013 135, 14586-14592. Cover

-Hasatani, K. ; Leocmach, M. ; Genot, A. J. ; Estevez-Torres, A. ; Fujii, T. ; Rondelez, Y., High- throughput and long-term observation of compartmentalized biochemical oscillators, Chem. Comm. 49, 8090-8092, 2013.

-J.-C. Galas, A.-M. Haghiri-Gosnet, A. Estévez-Torres, A nanoliter-scale open chemical reactor, Lab Chip, 11, 415-423, 2013.


You may find further information in our detailed webpage:




Quantitative Characterization of Translational Riboregulators Using an in Vitro Transcription-Translation System - ACS Synth. Biol.
A. Senoussi , J. Lee Tin Wah , Y. Shimizu , J. Robert , A. Jaramillo , S. Findeiss , I. M. Axmann , A. Estevez-Torres
  URL Full text PDF Bibtex doi:10.1021/acssynbio.7b00387


Synthesis and materialization of a reaction-diffusion French flag pattern - Nature chem.
A. Zadorin , Y. Rondelez , G. Gines , V. Dilhas , G. Urtel , A. Zambrano , J.C. Galas , A. Estevez-Torres
  URL Full text PDF Bibtex doi:10.1038/nchem.2770
Microscopic agents programmed by DNA circuits - Nature Nano
G. Gines , A.S. Zadorin , J.C. Galas , T. Fujii , A. Estevez-Torres , Y. Rondelez
  URL Full text PDF Bibtex doi:10.1038/nnano.2016.299