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How fish grew limbs and moved onto land

Posted by on July 25th, 2016

Fin to limb transition was a crucial evolutionary adaptation necessary for the vertebrate land invasion in the late Devonian around 400 MY ago. Without this key event, I would not be writing this blog, we as a species would definitely not exist, and neither would any other tetrapod. While the gross morphological changes for this process are fairly well understood,[…]

From our sister journals – July 2016

Posted by on July 25th, 2016

Here we highlight some developmental biology related content from other journals published by The Company of Biologists.         Aging zebrafish an ideal model Mice have been the traditional model of choice for investigating telomere shortening in aging, but zebrafish provide an upcoming complementary system with well-conserved physiology. Ferreira and colleagues discuss how fishes have helped our understanding of[…]

The dynamics of chromatin when life begins

Posted by on July 20th, 2016

Fertilization marks the start of life. This is followed by highly coordinated epigenetic reprogramming that allows protamine-histone exchange, zygotic genome activation, and the generation of a totipotent embryo. However, the true state of chromatin at the level of DNA during this crucial period is a long-standing mystery.   Our lab is dedicated to understanding epigenetic reprogramming[…]

In Development this week (Vol. 143, Issue 14)

Posted by on July 19th, 2016

Here are the highlights from the current issue of Development:   Gestational stress: at the heart of birth defects Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common form of human birth defect, yet the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to CHD remain poorly understood. Here, Sally Dunwoodie and colleagues investigate how gestational hypoxia affects[…]

Journey to the East: from San Diego to Singapore

Posted by on July 18th, 2016

Axons in mature nervous systems regenerate poorly after injury, creating a major obstacle for recovery from neuronal injury. We know, however, that their regenerative capabilities are affected by both cell-extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Understanding these processes is crucial to provide future therapeutic intervention for neuronal regeneration. We recently found a cell-intrinsic factor inhibiting axon regeneration[…]

Research without boundaries – I remain an optimist

Posted by on July 16th, 2016

This week I attended a meeting with Paul Nurse, director of the The Francis Crick Institute, who spoke about the potential implications of the pending Brexit on scientific research at the Crick. Like many other postdocs, I never envisaged that I would be sitting in the Fletcher Hall at Mill Hill following a referendum outcome that meant the UK[…]

3D retinas made from patient stem cells shed light on mechanisms of inherited blindness

Posted by on July 15th, 2016

Amelia Lane, David A. Parfitt, Conor M. Ramsden, Peter J. Coffey, Michael E. Cheetham   Parfitt et al. Cell Stem Cell 1–13 (2016)   Making eyes Methods to differentiate human stem cells into retinal cell types have been under development for almost a decade. Stem cell derived retinal cells provide a rich resource to study[…]

Stem Cell & Higher-Order Chromatin Structure: Official meeting reporter wanted

Posted by on July 13th, 2016

Stem cells have the unique properties of both self renewal and differentiation into various lineages. In the last few years, chromatin architecture and noncoding RNAs are emerging as major players in both gene regulation and stem cell differentiation. This November, Abcam is hosting a conference in Sicily to promote this exciting field, and has teamed up with the[…]

Revisiting the classics: coupling embryology with genomics to alter cell fate

Posted by on July 13th, 2016

Comment on “Reprogramming of avian neural crest axial identity and cell fate“, Science 352, 1570-1573, (2016). Marcos Simoes-Costa, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University Marianne Bronner, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology   In the 19th century, most embryologists (i.e. precursors to developmental biologists) accepted the germ layer theory[…]

Deep into the developmental origins of neural tumours with Drosophila

Posted by on July 12th, 2016

Caroline Dillard and Cédric Maurange (Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, IBDM, Marseille)   Drosophila neural stem cells as a cancer model Transformation of a cell into a cancer cell is a complex process along which the cell acquires hallmarks as diverse as resistance to differentiation, infinite proliferative potential, metastasis, resistance to cell death, genome instability (Hanahan and[…]