The aim of my research is to understand the lineage decisions of pluripotent cells. I am interested in how local communication between individual cells influences these decisions. We are also trying to understand how changes in adhesion and tissue morphology modulate differentiation during early development.
We aim to understand how cells steer a path from pluripotency towards lineage commitment, and in particular to understand why differentiation response can be variable between individual cells.We have identified transcription factors that control the first steps towards differentiation, and which can be exploited as markers of early primed or committed states. We are also investigating how events outside the nucleus, particularly cell adhesion and tissue morphology, may influence the way that pluripotent cells receive and interpret differentiation cues. Our lab are developing quantitative imaging tools for monitoring changes in tissue morphology and cellular organisation in order to ask how these relate to differentiation competence. By uncovering the interplay between transcription, signalling, and morphogenesis, our ultimate aim is to discover the hidden rules behind the apparent unpredictability of the differentiation response.