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Developmental Genetics

Shaping cells, tissues and embryos

How do cells and tissue acquire their typical polarity, shape? During development cells proliferate, undergo cell shape changes and rearrange within the tissue to finally generate the stereotypic morphology of the embryo. The tight spatiotemporal control and coordination of these morphogenetic processes is essential for development, and loss of control or coordination of them is a hallmark in the pathology of many diseases. Our  work focuses on early Drosophila embryos, which provide a number of conceptual and experimental advantages, given the high speed of development, simple morphology as well genetic and microscopic tractability. We study the factors and molecular mechanisms controlling the transition from fast to slow cell cycles, forming and polarising epithelial tissue, orchestrating cell rearrangement and coordinating behaviour between neighbouring cells. We have discovered and analysed factors linking cell cycle control and morphogenesis, epithelial polarisation and cell coordination. Beside state-of-the-art molecular and transgenic approches, we are extensively using and developing procedures for live and high-resolution microscopy to track nuclei and cells. We are employing and developing opto-genetic and opto-chemical methods as well as invasive UV laser based microsurgery to reveal and interfere with biophysical parameters of cells and tissues.

Nuclear morphogenesis and Aging

Based on our study of nuclear morphogenesis, we study the role of the nuclear lamina in regeneration and ageing of adult Drosophila flies. As mammals aging of flies is genetically controlled. We study the contribution of lamina proteins, which under lead to accelerated aging under pathological conditions. This becomes strikingly obvious by a number of progeric diseases, such as the Hutchinson-Gilfert progeria syndromes (HGPS), which is caused by mutations in Lamin A. We have discovered a new lamina protein (Kugelkern), which is involved in nuclear morphogenesis and resembles the activity of Lamin A in ageing. We have establish a Drosophila model for HGPS and regeneration of the adult midgut.

CONTACT:, Office: Ms Bettina Schön,, +49-6421-282-3474, Mailing address: Grosshans lab, FB Biology/Philipps University, Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 8, 35032 Marburg, Germany