Fundamental mechanisms of vertebrate cell and developmental biology were first discovered by studying amphibians, in particular the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis. This includes the discovery and elucidation of embryonic induction, cell cycle regulation, vertebrate axis formation, cloning, and cellular reprogramming. In addition, major contributions were achieved in the fields of growth factor signaling and tissue morphogenesis. The Nobel Prizes for Physiology or Medicine to Hans Spemann (1935), Tim Hunt (2001), and John Gurdon (2012) testify for the utility of amphibians as powerful model systems for biomedical research. These discoveries were also highly relevant for cancer research, because developmental control genes frequently are oncogenes.
The Wnt pathway plays an eminent role in development, stem cells and cancer. The PhD project involves characterization of the signaling properties of novel candidate Wnt pathway components and to study their role as regulators of cell differentiation in Xenopus embryogenesis as a model system for patterning and morphogenesis. Notably the regulation of protein kinases by Dead Box RNA Helicases will be addressed using CRISPR/CAS9 mediated gene editing and Morpholino antisense oligonucleotides.
Molecular biology: CRISPR/CAS9 gene editing; molecular cloning, PCR, qPCR, RNAseq, confocal imaging
Cell biology: immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry
Developmental biology: embryo microinjection, in situ hybridisation, transgenesis, transplantation, in vitro culture