Developmental Biology Research

Developmental Biology faculty members have research laboratories in the Department’s 35,000 square feet of research space. While the topics of research are diverse, a common theme is interest in intracellular signaling pathways. Summaries are below:

Ephrins and Their Eph Receptor Tyrosine Kinases

The forces that attract and repulse axons as they pathfind is in part regulated by the ephrins and their eph receptor tyrosine kinases.

Tumor Growth Factor ß Signaling Mechanisms

Tumor Growth Factor ß signaling mechanisms hold important roles in diverse activities during embryonic development. The Smads are the intracellular intermediaries to the nucleus of TGFß signaling. Studies using the frog, xenopus, and the mouse are underway to elucidate these pathways as they relate to development and to cancer.

WNT and Hedgehog Signaling Pathways

The wnt and hedgehog signaling pathways are conserved from Drosophila to humans. They affect fundamental aspects of embryonic pattern formation but have also been implicated in human cancers. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a powerful organism for the genetic elucidation of genes that participate in these signaling pathways.

Neurotrophins and TRKs

The neurotrophins and their receptor tyrosine kinases (TRKs) have fundamentally important roles in nerve cell survival during embryonic development. Recent advances in knockout technology permit the study of neurotrophins through conditional knockouts in the CNS and their role in learning and memory and in behavioral disorders.

Von Recklinghausen’s Neurofibromatosis

Von Recklinghausen’s Neurofibromatosis is a prevalent genetic disease of the nervous system that impinges on Ras signaling. Mouse models have been constructed that permit study of various aspects of the disease including, regulation of CNS development, benign and malignant tumor formation.