Adult vertebrate organs are complex multi-cellular structures consisting of highly specialized cells in precise spatial arrangements. In spite of their large structural and functional diversity the development of all organs involves a series of similar steps and relies on common mechanisms.
Specification of populations of organ precursor cells precedes the irreversible commitment of some or all of these cells to an organ-specific developmental program, followed by the establishment of an organ-specific spatial arrangement of these cells (morphogenesis), and finally their differentiation into organ-specific cell types. Throughout all these steps cell proliferation and cell death need to be tightly controlled. On a molecular level, signaling processes are of key importance in driving the development of all organs from the specification of organ precursors to terminal differentiation.
All these aspects are addressed in individual projects of the research program of GRK 1104 using a combination of genetic, biochemical, molecular and cell biology approaches and four vertebrate (mouse, chick, Xenopus, zebrafish) and two invertebrate (Drosophila, C. elegans) model organisms.
State of the art microscopy, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics approaches complement the spectrum of methods used in the Research Training Group.