Development of neuronal and endocrine neural crest derivates.
The neural crest is a transient embryonic structure during vertebrate development that issues stem-cell-like progenitors, which are of high importance for the formation of many organs, including the complete peripheral nervous system, the adrenal gland, the bones of the skull and the heart.
We study the development of neuronal and endocrine cells from neural crest derived progenitor cells. We focus in particular on the role of local signaling molecules, transcription factors, microRNAs and hypoxia-inducible factors. A precise understanding of the mechanisms involved in the generation of multiple cell types from the neural crest as well as the regulation of proliferation, cell death and progenitor maintenance is of fundamental importance not only to basic science but also for the understanding of neural crest related diseases, like the neural-crest derived tumor neuroblastoma.
For our studies we employ genetic mouse models (knockout, conditional knockout, transgenic), in-vitro models and various histological (Immunostaining, In-situ hybridization and electron microscopy) and molecular biological methods (qPCR, DNA-microarray).