Regulation and dynamics of progressive cell fate transitions and morphogenesis during development of the early mouse embryo

Year of award: 2012


  • Prof Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Magdalena aims to understand the key events directing development of the mammalian embryo from the time of fertilisation until gastrulation. She uses an integrated approach that combines classical and molecular embryology with genetics and imaging techniques. These aim to uncover the epigenetic modifications and cellular mechanisms that are crucial in setting aside the embryo’s natural stem cells, the epiblast, from two neighbouring extra-embryonic tissues, trophectoderm and primitive endoderm. More recently she has developed culture techniques that allow the epiblast and its two neighbouring tissues to develop in vitro through stages that until now have been hidden from view as the embryo implants into the uterus. This has given new insight into a previously unrecognised ability of the epiblast to respond to surrounding extra-cellular matrix and self-organise into a rosette like structure, essential for the formation of the fetus.