Science for Health
During early stages of nervous system development in vertebrates, neural tissue is subdivided into building blocks, each with a distinct regional identity. Within these subdivisions, the proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells is regulated in time and space to form the correct number and organisation of neuronal and glial cells. In order for these precise patterns to form and be maintained, it is essential that cells do not migrate into inappropriate locations. Disruption of the mechanisms that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation or migration can lead to diseases such as cancer.
Our studies aim to elucidate molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate formation of precise tissue subdivisions and patterns of differentiating cells in the vertebrate nervous system. We are analysing how signaling through Eph receptors and ephrins inhibits intermingling and establishes sharp boundaries between distinct cell populations. In other studies, we have identified a pathway mediated by targeted protein degradation required for the onset of neuronal differentiation, and uncovered a novel mechanism underlying spatial patterning of neurogenesis involving FGF signaling from neurons.
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Detection of neurons (green), cell proliferation (red) and cell nuclei (blue) in the developing hindbrain.
Expression of specific genes that mark segment boundary cells (green) and alternating segments (red) in the hindbrain.
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