Shuyi Nie, Ph.D.
School of Biological Sciences
“Learning Neural Crest Migration at the Interface of Cell and Extracellular Matrix”
Understanding how cells migrate during embryonic development:
The fundamental question we are trying to answer is how the coordinated cell movements are regulated during animal development. Different groups of cells move to different locations in a growing embryo to give rise to specific tissue and structures. It is a very complex process since the “ground” cells travel on is also undergoing constant rearrangement and growth. We use neural crest as a model to study the mechanisms of cell migration during embryonic development. The neural crest is a vertebrate innovation, comprised of highly migratory stem-like cells that give rise to multiple tissue and structures, including craniofacial bones and cartilages, connective tissue in the heart, enteric nervous system in the gut, and pigment cells all over the skin. Defects in their proliferation, migration, differentiation, or survival lead to numerous diseases and birth defects, including craniofacial and heart malformations as well as different types of cancer. Ongoing studies aim to uncover how neural crest cell migration is regulated from several prospectives: at the level of cytoskeletal machinery, at the interface between cell and extracellular matrix, and at the level of gene transcription. We hope to understand how neural crest cells achieve such extraordinary migratory abilities, and whether such knowledge can be extended to study cancer metastasis.
The Petit Institute Breakfast Club seminar series was started with the spirit of the Institute's interdisciplinary mission in mind and started to feature local Petit Institute faculty member's research in a seminar format. Faculty are often asked to speak at other universities and conferences, but rarely present at their home institution, this seminar series is an attempt to close that gap. The Petit Institute Breakfast Club is open to anyone in the bio-community.