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Shaping Cells and Tissues
Morphogenesis, i.e. the process of shaping biological structures, requires a plethora of interconnected processes. Signaling gradients and mechanical forces, to name a few, constantly instruct cells to migrate, proliferate, differentiate and change their polarity etc. Elucidating these principles paves the way towards understanding the formation of complex three-dimensional structures with prospective utilization in biomedical research of embryonic development and regenerative approaches.
- What are the signaling principles that allow the formation of elaborate 3D structures such as the vertebrate limbs? What are the key regulators?
- Cells attach to extracellular macromolecular structures, the extracellular matrix. Which transmembrane receptors are mainly used for this purpose? How do cells achieve a mechanical coupling between the extracellular matrix and the cytoskeleton? How could this influence gene transcription?
- What defines a stem cell, what is a stem cell niche? Based on this, which mechanisms are active in stem cells as opposed to other somatic cells allowing them to fulfill their functions?
- Name and explain the basic principles of techniques that could be used to analyze expression patterns in development.
- Cellular functions rely on gene expression. Which methods can be used to analyze the expression of a specific gene of interest and genome-wide gene expression in vitro? How can you proceed in a specific cell type in its tissue context (piece of tissue, tissue section)?