Science for Health
Following their specification, liver precursors undergo dramatic morphogenetic changes when they collectively grow out from the foregut to form the liver bud - they rearrange as a group of cells displaying differential changes in cell shape and polarity. In parallel, the extrahepatic duct differentiates at the base of liver bud, connecting it to the alimentary canal. These poorly understood developmental steps are central for determining the ultimate shape and size of the liver.
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Prox1 expressing hepatoblasts (red) rearrange from a wide field of cells into a compact organ bud between 1 and 2 days of development. At late stages, Prox1 is also present in the ventral pancreas.
Tissue morphogenesis represents a well-orchestrated interplay of different cellular processes, such as cell adhesion, shape and polarity. They are generally dynamic and often tightly linked to cell proliferation. These events need to be tightly controlled to allow remodeling and growth, but also to ensure the cohesion of the forming tissue. Using the experimental advantages of zebrafish, we aim to elucidate two fundamental aspects, the basic cell biological processes of liver morphogenesis, as well as the underlying genetic pathways controlling them.
A recent project in the lab follows unbiased as well as candidate approaches, latter employing a newly developed targeted mutagenesis method, to uncover key factors in liver morphogenesis.
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