Peter Baillie-Johnson

pbjwebsitepb495@cam.ac.uk

I am a third year PhD Candidate, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. During the course of my PhD, I have developed a system for reliably producing small, self-organising aggregates of mouse embryonic stem cells that we call gastruloids (Baillie-Johnson et al., 2015; van den Brink et al., 2014). The focus of my thesis is on the relationship between these structures and the developing embryo, looking particularly at the example of axial elongation during the formation of the trunk and spinal cord.

In the embryo, these axial tissues are derived from a small population of bipotent neuro-mesodermal progenitors or NMps. This population can self-renew (Cambray and Wilson, 2002, 2007) and undergoes a phase of expansion as the trunk tissues are formed (Wymeersch et al., 2016). It is, however, very technically challenging to isolate these cells from the embryo so they have not been widely studied.

I have identified a set of culture conditions that causes the gastruloids to elongate reproducibly. The elongating region contains both neural and mesodermal derivatives, as well as a candidate population of NMps which express the same genes as the embryonic population (Turner et al., 2014). My work now focusses on describing the properties of these candidate NMps such as the dynamics of the population and their potential in vivo. I have recently incorporated bioengineering techniques into my work, such as the use of artificial extracellular matrices, to try to maintain the structure of these elongations and to propagate this population.

The gastruloid system can potentially offer a medium-throughput way to generate neuro-mesodermal progenitors which, I hope, will enable their further study and open up the possibility of generating axial tissues like the spinal cord in vitro.

CV Synopsis:

Oct 2015 – : Stothert Research Bye-Fellowship, Magdalene College

Oct 2013 – : EPSRC PhD Studentship, Martinez Arias Lab

Oct 2010 – Oct 2013:  BA (hons, 2.i) Natural Sciences, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

 

Literature Cited:

Baillie-Johnson, P., van den Brink, S.C., Balayo, T., Turner, D.A., and Martinez Arias, A. (2015). Generation of Aggregates of Mouse ES Cells that Show Symmetry Breaking, Polarisation and Emergent Collective Behaviour in vitro. J. Vis. Exp. 105.

van den Brink, S.C., Baillie-Johnson, P., Balayo, T., Hadjantonakis, A.-K., Nowotschin, S., Turner, D.A., and Martinez Arias, A. (2014). Symmetry breaking, germ layer specification and axial organisation in aggregates of mouse embryonic stem cells. Development 141, 4231–4242.

Cambray, N., and Wilson, V. (2002). Axial progenitors with extensive potency are localised to the mouse chordoneural hinge. Development 129, 4855–4866.

Cambray, N., and Wilson, V. (2007). Two distinct sources for a population of maturing axial progenitors. Development 134, 2829–2840.

Turner, D. A., Hayward, P.C., Baillie-Johnson, P., Rue, P., Broome, R., Faunes, F., and Martinez Arias, A. (2014). Wnt/β-catenin and FGF signalling direct the specification and maintenance of a neuromesodermal axial progenitor in ensembles of mouse embryonic stem cells. Development 141, 4243–4253.

Wymeersch, F.J., Huang, Y., Blin, G., Cambray, N., Wilkie, R., Wong, F.C., and Wilson, V. (2016). Position-dependent plasticity of distinct progenitor types in the primitive streak. Elife 5, 1–28.

 

Publications:

2016:

Turner, D.A., Glodowski, C.R., Alonso-Crisostomo, L., Baillie-Johnson, P., Hayward, P.C., Collignon, J., Gustavsen, C., Serup, P., Schröter, C., and Martinez Arias, A. (2016) Interactions between Nodal and Wnt Signalling Drive Robust Symmetry Breaking and Axial Organisation in Gastruloids (Embryonic Organoids). BioRxiv. doi: 10.1101/051722

 

2015:

Turner, D. A., Baillie-Johnson, P. and Martinez Arias, A. (2015), Organoids and the genetically encoded self-assembly of embryonic stem cells. Bioessays. doi: 10.1002/bies.201500111

 

Baillie-Johnson, P., van den Brink, S.C., Balayo, T., Turner, D.A. & Martinez Arias, A. (2015) Generation of Aggregates of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells that Show Symmetry Breaking, Polarization and Emergent Collective Behaviour in vitro. Journal of Visualised Experiments.

 

2014:

van den Brink, S.C., Baillie-Johnson, P., Balayo, T., Hadjantonakis, A.-K., Nowotschin, S., Turner, D. A., and Martinez Arias, A. (2014). Symmetry breaking, germ layer specification and axial organisation in aggregates of mouse embryonic stem cells. Development 141, 4231–4242. Joint first author with S.C. van den Brink.

 

Turner, D. A., Hayward, P.C., Baillie-Johnson, P., Rue, P., Broome, R., Faunes, F., and Martinez Arias, A. (2014). Wnt/β-catenin and FGF signalling direct the specification and maintenance of a neuromesodermal axial progenitor in ensembles of mouse embryonic stem cells. Development 141, 4243–4253. Second author.

 

Baillie-Johnson, P., Brink, S.C. Van Den, Balayo, T., Turner, D.A., and Martinez Arias, A. (2014). Generation of Aggregates of Mouse ES Cells That Show Symmetry Breaking, Polarisation and Emergent Collective Behaviour in vitro. bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/005215.

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