I joined the lab as a PhD student in 2015, and I’m studying the genetic networks involved in mesoderm specification.
During gastrulation, the different types of mesoderm emerge from the Primitive Streak in a conserved and reproducible order. In my project I am using mouse embryonic stem cells and mouse epiblast stem cells to understand the signalling and gene regulatory networks that determine how this order is established.
Nodal, BMP and Wnt signalling are all involved in the specification of mesoderm tissues in the developing mouse embryo, but it is poorly understood how these signals coordinate to generate a reproducible order in the emergence of mesodermal fates from the Primitive Streak. Mouse embryonic stem cells and mouse epiblast stem cells provide a system in which to study this process in a controlled environment where signalling inputs can be manipulated and different techniques, including immunofluorescence, flow cytometry and molecular biology techniques such RT-PCR, can be used to monitor the response of the cells. A better understanding of the gene regulatory network underlying mesendoderm specification will also provide insights into the processes through which symmetry breaking and antero-posterior axis establishment occur in the mouse embryo.