Research in Zoology
Our developmental biology focuses on Drosophila and Xenopus. The Drosophila work is carried out in the main Department, where five research groups (Michael Bate, Matthias Landgraf, Peter Lawrence, Isabel Palacios, Helen Skaer) cooperate and share recently refurbished facilities. One more Drosophila group is based at the Wellcome/CRUK Gurdon Institute (Eugenia Piddini). Their interests are wide ranging, encompassing cell signalling mechanisms, morphogenesis and the patterning of the epidermis; induction, formation and patterning of muscle; RNA processing and its relation to cell polarity; development of the nervous system and formation of synapses; the formation and function of visceral neurons and development of the Malpighian tubules and the control of cell survival and proliferation by cell interactions. These diverse groups are drawn together by their common interest in the embryology, developmental genetics and cell and molecular biology of Drosophila and their overall goal of using these to understand fundamental developmental mechanisms. The Xenopus work is based in the Wellcome/CR UK Gurdon Institute (John Gurdon). The group of the late Anne McLaren was based in the same Institute. Transgenic techniques, together with immunochemical and recombinant DNA approaches are used to analyze inductive interactions and mechanisms of cell differentiation with an emphasis on genes that regulate mesoderm induction. The roles of growth factors and their receptors, signal transduction pathways, adhesion molecules and cytoskeletal components in vertebrate development are also under investigation, as are the mechanisms of nuclear reprogramming.