Research focus

 

Xenopus embryos have been used extensively as one of the traditional experimental systems to study vertebrate development. The availability of large numbers of embryos, which can be cultivated in simple saline buffer systems in vitro, as well as the ease of experimental manipulation (microdisection and microinjection) have allowed for a number of major discoveries in respect to the molecular mechanisms that regulate early embryogenesis in vertebrates. In this context, we are interested in how first asymmetries are established already in the unfertilized egg (mRNA localization to the vegetal pole of the egg) and in how such early asymmetries regulate germ cell development as well as germ layer formation in the period of embryogenesis that directly follows fertilization. Furthermore, we are also trying to define the molecular events that lead from germ layer (i.e. endoderm) to organ (i.e. pancreas) formation. Such knowledge should help to generate specifically specialized cells (such as insulin-producing pancreatic ß-cells) in vitro. In summary, research topics in this subgroup are defined as:

 

  • Transport of mRNAs to the vegetal pole of Xenopus oocytes
  • Function of vegetally localizing mRNAs in the context of germ cell formation and migration
  • Formation of pancreatic precursor cells from the early endoderm