We use the mouse model system to study the principles of organogenesis. Much of our work is focused on the kidney, which employs many of the fundamental mechanisms used throughout development, including inductive interactions, mesenchyme to epithelia transformation, segmentation and differentiation along the length of the forming nephron.
We use a combination of laser capture microdissection, microarrays, organ culture, next-generation DNA sequencing, gene-targeted mice and single-cell gene-expression profile analysis to better define the gene-expression programs driving kidney development. We are also using recombineering technology to create sets of multiple Hox mutations to better understand these functionally redundant genes in development.
Another area of study for the lab is craniofacial development. The face is constructed primarily from neural crest cells. One project examines the function of a zinc finger transcription factor gene, Sp8, which when mutated gives a “faceless” phenotype. A second project is devoted to the construction of an atlas of gene-expression programs that direct craniofacial development.