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Goolam Group Research

In our group we investigate early mammalian development. We use mouse embryos and stem cells as a model system to further our understanding of lineage specification, morphogenetic events, as well as the maternal-foetal interactions that occur during the implantation stages of development.

 

Focus 1 – Embryonic lineage specification and pattern formation

Embryonic development progresses through several cell fate decisions as well as three-dimensional morphogenetic transformations during implantation. This includes establishment of the body axes (anterior-posterior, dorsal-ventral and left-right) and formation of the embryonic germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm). It is of fundamental importance to understand how these processes occur, are co-ordinated, and are regulated.

 

Our first focus is to use in vitro culture methods of embryos and stem cells in order to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern lineage specification, developmental potential and tissue morphogenesis while also offering novel insights on the pathological causes of embryonic lethality and implantation failure. 

 

Focus 2 - In vitro model system to study embryo implantation and maternal-foetal interactions

Con-current to the development of the embryo during implantation is the formation of the maternal decidua and the embryonically derived placenta. The placenta functions to transfer maternal nutrients and oxygen to the rapidly developing foetus and remove carbon dioxide and waste products from the foetus to the mother. A functional placenta is essential for embryonic survival from pregnancy day 10 onwards. The degree to which the placenta, as well as the surrounding maternal tissue support and aid in embryonic development is a fundamental question in developmental biology.

 

Our second focus is to develop in vitro methods to study these maternal-foetal interactions. This is being undertaken by developing a novel culture system that will allow us to visualise and investigate placental development highlighting its interaction with the embryo during the peri-implantation stages of development.  This will aid our studies into lineage segregation of the embryo as in vivo the cell fate decisions that occur are supported by maternal tissue but have so far been studied without consideration for the effects of maternal-fetal interactions.