Research objectives and content
To understand how cells acquire a neural identity, we are studying the mechanisms underlying the late and discrete period of neural determination that takes place in the vertebrate tail bud. While the mechanisms involved in early neural induction are now beginning to be understood, those underlying this late phase of neural determination have yet to be identified. Neural tissue generated in the tail bud gives rise to the sacral regions and is of interest because disruption of the process of cell fate allocation within the tail bud may underlie clinically relevant spina-bifida-like defects. We have chosen to work in the large and accessible chick embryo, which allows a unique combination of cellular and molecular techniques with which to investigate neural determination in the tail bud. Our preliminary work has identified a novel candidate neural determination gene in the tail bud. In combination with lineage tracing techniques this gene will facilitate the identification of neural precursors in the tail bud. This late phase is also more amenable to retroviral infection than the early phase of neural induction, allowing the over-expression and hence functional analysis of candidate neural determination genes.
Training content (objective. benefit and expected impact)
Dr. Storey is an experienced embryologist who has extensive knowledge in chick embryology and in grafting and lineage tracing techniques. In her laboratory, I will not only learn these techniques but I will also be introduced to the issues raised by comparing developmental and molecular processes between different organisms, such as flies and vertebrates. This project provides me with a unique opportunity to apply my knowledge of Drosophila neural development and molecular biology to a new system, the developing vertebrate embryo.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)