Patterning the embryo, one signalling molecule at a time


  • Dr Stanley Strawbridge

    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Project summary

For the multiple tissues in a healthy mammalian embryo to develop, cells must grow and become specialised. Signalling molecules produced by particular cells help to direct this 'differentiation' process by initiating molecular responses that change the fate of neighbouring receiving cells. However, until now, it has not been possible to monitor the activity of single signalling molecules and their consequences in a living system. To address this challenging question, we have developed tools to follow individual signalling molecules as they travel between cells and to visualise how they drive changes within a single cell during differentiation. To add to this, bespoke mathematical modelling will help us design experiments and interpret the results. This study will shed light on key developmental processes, generating knowledge important for drug discovery, regenerative medicine and for improving the outcome of assisted conception (IVF).