Vertebrate development and genetics

The Vertebrate development group works on a range of projects related to growth and development and human disease, using the model organisms Xenopus tropicalis and the zebrafish. The team is led by Derek Stemple, Head of Mouse and Zebrafish Genetics

The organisms allow the combination of sophisticated embryological methods and functional genetics in diploid vertebrate systems for studying the genetic control of very early development in the embryo, to understand how genes regulate body axis and tissue growth. The team also studies the muscular dystrophies, to understand how the different mutations identified as causing these inherited diseases affect the complex interactions of proteins within and around muscle cells. The team, headed by Derek Stemple, also manages the zebrafish and xenopus mutation projects, which are dedicated to producing lines of zebrafish and Xenopus that are carriers of inactivated genes for further functional analysis, and the Zebrafish genome project that seeks to significantly improve the quality of the zebrafish genome sequence. All of these resources are invaluable to the scientific community and to functional genetics research.

[Dr Steve Wilson, Wellcome Images]

Background

The main focus of the work in our group is to understand the mechanistic basis of human genetic diseases by modelling them in other vertebrate organisms, specifically zebrafish and Xenopus tropicalis. The laboratory has strong roots in developmental biology and continues to work on the early stages of vertebrate development. Work in the group that addresses the mechanisms of human disease is focused on diseases of skeletal muscle; dystrophies and myopathies. This has led us to undertake a systematic cell biological and genetic study of sarcomere assembly.

Research

To facilitate our studies and to provide resources to the wider research community we have undertaken several systematic analysis projects. The Zebrafish genome project, which was begun a few years ago at the Sanger Institute, is working to deliver a high-quality finished genome, with the entire clonable genome represented by completely sequenced bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs). The Zebrafish Mutation Project is a project which will deliver mutant lines and phenotype analysis for at least 1000 zebrafish genes over the next five years. Finally, the Xenopus Mutation Project is a National Institutes of Health funded project to identify and phenotypically characterise mutations in nearly 200 Xenopus tropicalis genes.

Resources

Team

No team members listed

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