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Organ Development and Patterning: signaling pathways that mediate organ development

Development is controlled by a complex series of events requiring sequential gene activation in order to create functional tissues and organs. Understanding how gene networks function during development is necessary for a complete understanding of how genes contribute to the creation of specific structures (phenotypes). By identifying the processes that direct the formation of organs during normal embryonic development, we hope to better understand how to treat or prevent disorders that arise from abnormal development. Cells must be able to communicate with adjacent cells, as well as with cells throughout the rest of embryo, in order to insure functional organs are created in the correct time and place. Researchers are beginning to decode this complex cellular language (signal transduction pathways). Some of our research focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms used during development to create embryonic organ fields and subsequent organs in the developing vertebrate embryo.

A few examples of manuscripts from our lab describing this type of work
(*denotes undergraduate research assistant):

  • Miazga, C. and McLaughlin, K.A., (2009) Coordinating the timing of cardiac precursor cell development during gastrulation: a new role for Notch signaling. Developmental Biology. 333(2) 285–296.
  • Bracken, C., Mizeracka, K.*, and McLaughlin, K.A. (2008) Patterning the embryonic kidney: BMP signaling mediates the differentiation of the pronephric tubules and duct. Developmental Dynamics. 237:132–144
  • Contakos, S., Gaydos, C., Pfeil, E.*, and McLaughlin, K.A. (2005). Subdividing the embryo: a role for Notch signaling during germ layer patterning in Xenopus laevis. Developmental Biology. 288(1):294-307.

If you want to learn more about this project, please contact kelly.mclaughlin@tufts.edu.