Prof Rudolf Winklbauer

Rudolf Winklbauer

Professor Emeritus


St. George (downtown)

CSB Appointment

Emeritus, Full

Research Areas

Animal Biology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Quantitative Biology /Modelling


Ph.D. University of Tubingen, Germany 1983
M.Sc. University of Tubingen 1979

Primary Undergraduate Department

Cell & Systems Biology

Graduate Programs

Cell & Systems Biology
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Research Description

Gastrulation is the first major morphogenetic event in animal development, which establishes the basic body plan of the organism. We study the cellular basis and the molecular control of gastrulation processes such as cell migration, cell rearrangement, and tissue boundary formation, using the Xenopus embryo as a model system. Molecularly, we focus on the role of cadherin-mediated adhesion, Eph receptor/ephrin ligand signalling, and non-canonical Wnt signalling in boundary formation and cell rearrangement, and on PDGF- and non-canonical Wnt signalling in cell migration. We also explore the mechanical properties of gastrula tissues, which determine the forces generated in the embryo, embryo structure, and the rate of tissue shape changes. For example, important mechanical parameters are tissue surface tension and tissue viscosity, and we developed methods to measure these in the Xenopus embryo, to see how they are correlated with gastrulation movements and controlled by molecular mechanisms such as Eph signalling. Altogether, our studies shed light not only on the fundamental process of gastrulation, but help to clarify basic general processes such as boundary formation and cell movement.

Contact Information

Office Phone: 416-978-4445
Office: RW620A
Lab: RW 620 / RW621
Lab Phone: 416-978-1790 / 416-946-0592

Mailing Address

Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3G5

Recent News

Sugar-coated cells’ surprise role in gastrulation

The way embryonic cells stick to each other is given a new twist by studies of the sugar coating around developing tissues. The Winklbauer lab has…

Read More

Tiptoeing around in the frog embryo

Dr Martina Nagel recently found the answer to a puzzle that she has been pursuing for 30 years in the laboratory of Prof Rudolf Winklbauer. She…

Read More



Two-phase kinetics and cell cortex elastic behavior in Xenopus gastrula cell-cell adhesion

Parent SE, Luu O, Bruce AE, Winklbauer R
2023, Developmental Cell, 10.1016/j.devcel.2023.11.014

Back to top


Characterization of convergent thickening, a major convergence force producing morphogenic movement in amphibians.

Shook DR, Wen JWH, Rolo A, O\'Hanlon M, Francica B, Dobbins D, Skoglund P, DeSimone DW, Winklbauer R, Keller RE
2022, eLife, 11, 35404236

Eph/ephrin signaling controls cell contacts and formation of a structurally asymmetrical tissue boundary in the Xenopus gastrula

Barua D, Winklbauer R
2022, Developmental Biology, 10.1016/j.ydbio.2022.07.007

Cell cortex regulation by the planar cell polarity protein Prickle1

Huang Y, Winklbauer R
2022, Journal of Cell Biology, 10.1083/jcb.202008116

Back to top


Cell–cell contact landscapes in Xenopus gastrula tissues

Barua D, Nagel M, Winklbauer R
2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.2107953118

Capillarity and active cell movement at mesendoderm translocation in the Xenopus gastrula

Nagel M, Barua D, Damm EW, Kashef J, Hofmann R, Ershov A, Cecilia A, Moosmann J, Baumbach T, Winklbauer R
2021, Development, 10.1242/dev.198960

Back to top


Mesoderm and endoderm internalization in the Xenopus gastrula

Winklbauer R
2020, Current Topics in Developmental Biology, 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2019.09.002

Brachyury in the gastrula of basal vertebrates

Bruce AE, Winklbauer R
2020, Mechanisms of Development, 10.1016/j.mod.2020.103625

Back to top


Gulp1 controls Eph/ephrin trogocytosis and is important for cell rearrangements during development

Gong J, Gaitanos TN, Luu O, Huang Y, Gaitanos L, Lindner J, Winklbauer R, Klein R
2019, Journal of Cell Biology, 10.1083/jcb.201901032

Dynamic cell–cell adhesion mediated by pericellular matrix interaction – a hypothesis

Winklbauer R
2019, Journal of Cell Science, 10.1242/jcs.231597

Back to top


PDGF-A suppresses contact inhibition during directional collective cell migration

Nagel M, Winklbauer R
2018, Development, 10.1242/dev.162651

Cell migration in the Xenopus gastrula

Huang Y, Winklbauer R
2018, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Developmental Biology, 10.1002/wdev.325

Back to top


Forces driving cell sorting in the amphibian embryo

Winklbauer R, Parent SE
2017, Mechanisms of Development, 10.1016/j.mod.2016.09.003

Ingression-type cell migration drives vegetal endoderm internalisation in the Xenopus gastrula

Wen JW, Winklbauer R
2017, eLife, 10.7554/eLife.27190

Mechanics of Fluid-Filled Interstitial Gaps. I. Modeling Gaps in a Compact Tissue

Parent SE, Barua D, Winklbauer R
2017, Biophysical Journal, 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.06.062

Mechanics of Fluid-Filled Interstitial Gaps. II. Gap Characteristics in Xenopus Embryonic Ectoderm

Barua D, Parent SE, Winklbauer R
2017, Biophysical Journal, 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.06.063

Back to top


PAPC mediates self/non-self-distinction during Snail1-dependent tissue separation

Luu O, Damm EW, Parent SE, Barua D, Smith TH, Wen JW, Lepage SE, Nagel M, Ibrahim-Gawel H, Huang Y, Bruce AE, Winklbauer R
2015, The Journal of cell biology, 208, 839-856, 25778923

PTEN regulates cilia through Dishevelled

Shnitsar I, Bashkurov M, Masson GR, Ogunjimi AA, Mosessian S, Cabeza EA, Hirsch CL, Trcka D, Gish G, Jiao J, Wu H, Winklbauer R, Williams RL, Pelletier L, Wrana JL, Barrios-Rodiles M
2015, Nature Communications, 10.1038/ncomms9388

Cell adhesion strength from cortical tension – an integration of concepts

Winklbauer R
2015, Journal of Cell Science, 10.1242/jcs.174623

Back to top


Variable combinations of specific ephrin ligand/Eph receptor pairs control embryonic tissue separation

Rohani N, Parmeggiani A, Winklbauer R, Fagotto F
2014, PLoS biology, 12, e1001955, 25247423

EphA4-dependent Brachyury expression is required for dorsal mesoderm involution in the Xenopus gastrula

Evren S, Wen JW, Luu O, Damm EW, Nagel M, Winklbauer R
2014, Development (Cambridge, England), 141, 3649-61, 25209247

Tissue cohesion and the mechanics of cell rearrangement

David R, Luu O, Damm EW, Wen JW, Nagel M, Winklbauer R
2014, Development (Cambridge, England), 141, 3672-82, 25249459

Ephrin-Eph signaling in embryonic tissue separation

Fagotto F, Winklbauer R, Rohani N
2014, Cell adhesion & migration, 8, 308-26, 25482630

Back to top


Cadherin-dependent differential cell adhesion in Xenopus causes cell sorting in vitro but not in the embryo

Ninomiya H, David R, Damm EW, Fagotto F, Niessen CM, Winklbauer R
2012, Journal of cell science, 125, 1877-83, 22328523

Cadherin function during Xenopus gastrulation

Winklbauer R
2012, Sub-cellular biochemistry, 60, 301-20, 22674077

Back to top


Internalizing the vegetal cell mass before and during amphibian gastrulation: vegetal rotation and related movements

Winklbauer R, Damm EW
2012, Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Developmental biology, 1, 301-6, 23801444

Mink1 regulates β-catenin-independent Wnt signaling via Prickle phosphorylation

Daulat AM, Luu O, Sing A, Zhang L, Wrana JL, McNeill H, Winklbauer R, Angers S
2012, Molecular and cellular biology, 32, 173-85, 22037766

Mesoderm layer formation in Xenopus and Drosophila gastrulation

Winklbauer R, Müller HA
2011, Physical biology, 8, 045001, 21750361

Knockdown of SPARC leads to decreased cell-cell adhesion and lens cataracts during post-gastrula development in Xenopus laevis

Huynh MH, Zhu SJ, Kollara A, Brown T, Winklbauer R, Ringuette M
2011, Development genes and evolution, 220, 315-27, 21384171

EphrinB/EphB signaling controls embryonic germ layer separation by contact-induced cell detachment

Rohani N, Canty L, Luu O, Fagotto F, Winklbauer R
2011, PLoS biology, 9, e1000597, 21390298

Large-scale mechanical properties of Xenopus embryonic epithelium

Luu O, David R, Ninomiya H, Winklbauer R
2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 4000-5, 21368110

PDGF-A controls mesoderm cell orientation and radial intercalation during Xenopus gastrulation

Damm EW, Winklbauer R
2011, Development (Cambridge, England), 138, 565-75, 21205800

Back to top


Role of p21-activated kinase in cell polarity and directional mesendoderm migration in the Xenopus gastrula

Nagel M, Luu O, Bisson N, Macanovic B, Moss T, Winklbauer R
2009, Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists, 238, 1709-26, 19504461

An adhesion-independent, aPKC-dependent function for cadherins in morphogenetic movements

Seifert K, Ibrahim H, Stodtmeister T, Winklbauer R, Niessen CM
2009, Journal of cell science, 122, 2514-23, 19549688

Tissue surface tension measurement by rigorous axisymmetric drop shape analysis

David R, Ninomiya H, Winklbauer R, Neumann AW
2009, Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces, 72, 236-40, 19442498

Axisymmetric drop shape analysis for estimating the surface tension of cell aggregates by centrifugation

Kalantarian A, Ninomiya H, Saad SM, David R, Winklbauer R, Neumann AW
2009, Biophysical journal, 96, 1606-16, 19217876

Cell adhesion in amphibian gastrulation

Winklbauer R
2009, International review of cell and molecular biology, 278, 215-75, 19815180

Back to top


Control of gastrula cell motility by the Goosecoid/Mix.1/ Siamois network: basic patterns and paradoxical effects

Luu O, Nagel M, Wacker S, Lemaire P, Winklbauer R
2008, Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists, 237, 1307-20, 18407556

Frizzled-7-dependent tissue separation in the Xenopus gastrula

Winklbauer R, Luu O
2008, Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 469, 485-92, 19109728

Regulation of convergent extension by non-canonical Wnt signaling in the Xenopus embryo

Petersen LF, Ninomiya H, Winklbauer R
2008, Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 469, 477-84, 19109727

Back to top


Epithelial coating controls mesenchymal shape change through tissue-positioning effects and reduction of surface-minimizing tension

Ninomiya H, Winklbauer R
2008, Nature cell biology, 10, 61-9, 18084283

Back to top


Antero-posterior tissue polarity links mesoderm convergent extension to axial patterning

Ninomiya H, Elinson RP, Winklbauer R
2004, Nature, 430, 364-7, 15254540

Guidance of mesoderm cell migration in the Xenopus gastrula requires PDGF signaling

Nagel M, Tahinci E, Symes K, Winklbauer R
2004, Development (Cambridge, England), 131, 2727-36, 15128658

Back to top