University of Dundee

EASTBIO: Round and around: a tail of two oscillators

This interdisciplinary PhD project will identify how Notch signalling and the cell cycle regulate growth and form in the developing vertebrate embryo by experimentally testing and refining a computational model that we have recently developed. Notch signalling plays a fundamental role in the regulation of many aspects of embryo development (e.g. somitogenesis, neurogenesis, vascular development). Moreover, it is one of the most activated pathways in some cancers. The overarching aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that the distribution of PSM cells in different phases of the cell cycle regulates the emergent segmentation clock frequency in a Notch signalling dependent manner so as to couple growth and pattern formation in the developing vertebrate embryo. To address this aim, we will use live-imaging to simultaneously measure segmentation clock and cell cycle phases in hiPS derived presomitic mesoderm (PSM) cells that contain a segmentation clock reporter. We will consider different configurations of the PSM cells (e.g. isolated, monolayer cultures, 3D cultures) and investigate whether and how Notch signalling-mediated interdependence between the segmentation clock and the cell cycle facilitates the emergence of a cell cycle-dependent, tissue-scale oscillator frequency. The experimental results will be used to further refine the existing mathematical models which in turn we will to explore system behaviour in silico.