Andrew Oates group
Patterning embryos with oscillations
How do spatio-temporal patterns emerge at the tissue level from noisy cellular and molecular interactions? What are the principles that govern transitions from parts to wholes, and those that determine precision and robustness? We explore these issues using a population of genetic oscillators in the vertebrate embryo termed the segmentation clock.
This multi-cellular clock drives the rhythmic, sequential, and precise formation of embryonic body segments, exhibiting rich spatial and temporal phenomena spanning from molecular to tissue scales. Tissue patterning by cellular oscillations is a recent concept, and the mechanisms and molecules responsible for this astonishing activity are just beginning to be understood.
We are biologists, engineers, and physicists using molecular genetics, quantitative imaging, and theoretical analysis. Because timing is the key to understanding oscillations, we developed a multiple-embryo time-lapse recording method to enable the quantitation and statistical treatment of somitogenesis dynamics. To understand the interactions of noisy cellular oscillators and regulatory networks, we developed theoretical descriptions that have been successfully tested in embryos. We identified the first mutations that change the period of the segmentation clock, opening the door to a molecular understanding of the mechanisms that control the clock’s dynamics. We are beginning to explore new transgenic tools that allow us to follow the oscillations of the segmentation clock in real time.
The three-tier model of the vertebrate segmentation clock
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The vertebrate segmentation clock, a rhythmic, tissue-level pattern generator responsible for sequential formation of the embryonic segments that give rise to backbone, ribs and associated muscles. For more details, see: Oates AC, Morelli LG, Ares S. Patterning embryos with oscillations: structure, function, and dynamics of the vertebrate segmentation clock. Development. 2012 Feb 139:625-639.
Current third party funding
- Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Science (WT098025MA)
- European Research Council Starting Grant (ERC-2007-StG: 207634)
German Research Council (DFG Normalverfaren OA 53/2-1)
Projects (theory and experiment)
- Single cell oscillations
- Cell-cell synchronization
- Global control of oscillator arrest
- Cellular movement and segmentation
- Professor Frank Jülicher, Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden, Germany
- Dr Luis Morelli, Departamento de Física, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Dr Saul Ares, Logic of Genomic Systems Laboratory, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología - CSIC, Madrid, Spain
- Dr Koichiro Uriu, Theoretical Biology Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute, Saitama, Japan
- Schröter C, Ares S, Morelli LG, Isakova A, Hens K, Soroldoni D, Gajewski M, Jülicher F, Maerkl SJ, Deplancke B, Oates AC. (2012)
Topology and dynamics of the zebrafish segmentation clock core circuit.
PLoS Biology. July 10(7), e1001364
- Oates AC, Morelli LG, Ares S. (2012)
Patterning embryos with oscillations: structure, function, and dynamics of the vertebrate segmentation clock.
Development Feb 139, 625-639
- Krol AJ, Roellig D, Dequeant M-L, Tassy O, Glynn E, Hattem G, Mushegian A, Oates AC, Pourquie O (2011)
Evolutionary plasticity of segmentation clock networks
Development June 138, 2783-2792
- Herrgen L, Schröter C, Morreli L, Ares S, Julicher F, Oates AC (2010)
Intercellular coupling regulates the period of the segmentation clock.
Current Biology 15 July 20(14), 1244-1253
- Schröter, C, Oates AC (2010)
Segment number and regional identity in a segmentation clock period mutant
Current Biology 15 July 20(14), 1254-1258
- Riedel-Kruse IH, Müller C, Oates AC (2007)
Synchrony dynamics during initiation, failure, and rescue of the segmentation clock.
Science Sep 28, 317:1911-5
Our research themes
Click links to view others working on these themes
- Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Basic Biomedical Science
- Professor of Vertebrate Developmental Genetics, University College London, UK
- Programme Leader, MRC National Institute of Medical Research
- Affiliate Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology, Dresden, Germany