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Renaud Poincloux


Cellular biologist studying the actin cytoskeleton using advanced cell imaging methods. Podosomaholic.

Present position:

CNRS research engineer (IRHC)

Co-PI, with Christel Vérollet, of the team Phagocyte architecture and dynamics.
Institute of Pharmacology and Structural biology (IPBS), UMR 5089, CNRS-University of Toulouse, France





I am a cell biologist working as a co-PI, with Christel Vérollet, of the team Phagocyte Architecture and Dynamics. I received my PhD in cell biology from Toulouse University in 2006. My dissertation work dealt with the formation of podosomes and the characterization of macrophage migration in tridimensional environments (Cougoule et al. 2010 Blood; Van Goethem et al. 2010 J. Immunol.; Poincloux et al. 2007 J. Cell Physiol.). I then joined Philippe Chavrier’s lab at the Curie Institute for two years, where I worked on the mechanisms involved in the formation of cancer cell invadopodia and on the mechanism used by breast cancer cells to invade 3D matrices (Hawkins et al. 2011 Biophys. J.; Poincloux et al. 2011 PNAS USA; Poincloux et al. J. Cell Science 2009 ; Lizarraga#, Poincloux# et al. 2010 Cancer Res.; Steffen et al. 2008 Curr. Biol.). In 2008, I was recruited as a permanent research engineer by CNRS to develop new imaging approaches dedicated to solve cell biology problems. With our team, we made an important contribution to the field of macrophage migration by demonstrating that macrophages have the unique capacity amongst leukocytes to use two different modes of migration depending on the architecture of the extracellular matrix, and we started revealing the role of podosomes in macrophage mesenchymal migration (Gui et al. 2018 Cancer Immunol. Res.; Vérollet et al. 2015 Blood; Guiet et al. 2012 J. Biol. Chem.). 5 years ago, our lab pioneered the field of podosome mechanobiology, and designed the first and only method to evaluate podosome protrusion forces (Labernadie et al. 2014 Nat. Commun.; Proag et al. 2015 ACS Nano; Bouissou et al. 2017 ACS Nano ; Cervero et al. 2018 Nat Commun.).


Current projects

Nanoscale architecture and mechanics of macrophage podosomes.

Staff: Javier Rey Barroso (post-doc), Natacha Escallier (engineer)
Previously on this project:  Anna Labernadie (PhD, 2010-13), Anais Bouissou (post-doc, 2013-17), Amsha Proag (post-doc, 2013-16), Emma Desvignes (PhD, 2016-18).


Podosomes are submicrometer structures that probe the stiffness of the extracellular environment. Left. Topography of a flexible membrane deformed by the podosomes of a macrophage (atomic force microscopy). Right. Architecture of the podosome ring (DONALD tridimensional nanoscopy); each vinculin molecule is colored according to its height with respect to the cell bottom (red to blue upwards).

Podosomes are structures involved in cell adhesion and degradation of the extracellular matrix. We could demonstrate, thanks to a method that we called protrusion force microscopy, that macrophage podosomes generate protrusive forces that are proportional to the stiffness of the extracellular matrix, (Labernadie et al. 2014 Nat. Commun.; Proag et al. 2015 ACS Nano). Podosomes are composed of a submicron core of actin filaments surrounded by a ring of integrin-based adhesion complexes. We aimed at deciphering how this particular cell structure generates a protrusive force. We observed a traction at the adhesive ring that counterbalances the actin-rich protrusive core forming a unique two-module protrusive force generator (Bouissou et al. 2017 ACS Nano). Furthermore, to decipher how macrophages apply forces when infiltrating narrow environments, we developed a device combining microchannels and pillars and reported that macrophage forces are redirected from inwards to outwards when the degree of confinement was increased (Desvignes et al. 2018 Nano Letters).



Mechanics of the bone degradation machinery of osteoclasts.

Staff: Marion Portes (PhD student), Renaud Poincloux & Christel Vérollet
Collaborations: Christophe Thibault and Christophe Vieu (LAAS, Toulouse, France)

This project aims at characterizing how the architecture and mechanics of the sealing zone (the bone degradation machinery of osteoclasts) are essential for osteoclast attachment to bone and bone resorption. The project is carried out with primary human osteoclasts and organized in 2 aims that will: 1/ define the 3D architecture and the dynamics of the sealing zone at the nano-scale and 2/ analyze the forces that the sealing zone exerts on substrates. In fine, we will study the relationship between the nano-architecture, the mechanics and the bone degradation activity of osteoclasts.


Osteoclasts are a large multinucleated cells that degrade bones, as seen here on this scanning electron micrograph.



Scientific achievements 

My scientific achievements consist in 40 research articles, accumulating >3200 citations with an h-index of 25, according to Google Scholar.

Selection of 5 publications:

  1. Desvignes E, Bouissou A, Laborde A, Mangeat T, Proag A, Vieu C, Thibault C, Maridonneau-Parini I*, Poincloux R*. Nanoscale forces during confined cell migration. Nano Lett (2018) 10;18(10):6326-6333 IF:12.1
  2. Bouissou A#, Proag A#, Bourg N, Pingris K, Cabriel C, Balor S, Mangeat T, Thibault C, Vieu C, Dupuis G, Fort E, Lévêque-Fort S, Maridonneau-Parini I*, Poincloux R*.  Podosome force generation machinery: a local balance between protrusion at the core and traction at the ring. ACS Nano (2017) 11(4):4028-4040 IF:13.7
  3. Proag A#, Bouissou A#, Mangeat T, Voituriez R, Delobelle P, Thibault C, Vieu C, Maridonneau-Parini I*, Poincloux R*.  Working together: Spatial synchrony in the force and actin dynamics of podosome first neighbors. ACS Nano (2015) 9(4):3800-13 IF:13.7    
  4. Labernadie A, Bouissou A, Delobelle P, Balor S, Voituriez R, Proag A, Fourquaux I, Thibault C, Vieu C, Poincloux R*, Charrière GM*, Maridonneau-Parini I*. Protrusion Force Microscopy reveals oscillatory force generation and mechanosensing activity of human macrophage podosomes. Nat Commun (2014) 5:5343 IF:12.4
  5. Poincloux R, Collin O, Lizárraga F, Romao M, Debray M, Piel M, Chavrier P. Contractility of the cell rear drives invasion of breast tumor cells in 3D Matrigel. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2011) 108(5):1943-8 IF:9.5


Teaching activities 

2016 & 2018 Organization of training sessions on Protrusion Force Microscopy and 3D nanoscopy, MiFoBio, Seignosse, France
2011 - Present           Temporary lecturer/practical teacher, Image Analysis, University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier, France
2005 Temporary lecturer/practical teacher, Cell Biology, University of Toulouse Paul Sabatier, France