Related news story: 20 February 2012
Principal Investigator: Professor Jeremy Green
In the Green laboratory, we analyse how cells build up tissues. Specifically, we look at the molecules that give cells specific directions in three-dimensional space by controlling their fates, behaviours, spatial orientations, proportions and movements. We have focused on the polarity protein PAR-1, which controls cell division orientation and the generation of new neurons in the early nervous system. PAR-1 likely regulates other polarised processes that we are investigating.
On a larger scale we are mapping the details of how large populations of cells move, grow and spread out to make the complex structures in the face, including the jaw and palate. The goal is to understand how the embryo makes its architecture so that one day we can use cells to repair and rebuild deformed, damaged or diseased tissues by harnessing natural processes.
Cells in an early frog embryo become aligned and move between one another, like two packs of cards being pushed together, to elongate the body axis. Green-stained cells among their red neighbours highlight the extreme shape variations
Building a rod: dissociated cells stick themselves together into a sphere, but if treated with a specific “morphogen” (a type of secreted protein found in embryos) they then elongate into a rod shape, in this case about half a millimetre long.
Directed cell division: when cells divide to make two daughter cells, the “spindle” structures that separate the chromosomes (red) can be oriented horizontally (left), obliquely (middle) or vertically (right), with PAR-1 driving the vertical, tissue-thickening mode.
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