Patterning and Morphogenesis
Though vertebrates display a remarkable diversity of body shapes and sizes they all develop according to the same basic principle: they progressively make head, trunk and tail structures resulting from the activity of a group of cells collectively known as axial progenitors.
The first level of patterning information loaded into these progenitors results in the global definition of the different body areas, meaning whether they will produce cell derivatives generating structures corresponding to the head, trunk or tail regions.
A second level of patterning information then controls the specific type of tissues produced by the progenitors within each of these global regions, eventually building a functional organism. Although body formation is a continuous process, development of head, trunk and tail regions is under the control of distinct gene networks.
Essentially, variations in the balance between these networks are the major responsible to produce the wide variety of body patterns observed across the vertebrate phylogeny.
The work in this group intends to understand the regulatory networks controlling each of these body areas and the mechanisms regulating the transitions from head to trunk and from trunk to tail developmental modes.
They use the mouse as the main model organism, combining transgenic and genome edition approaches with genome-wide analyses and advanced imaging techniques. Recently, they have also incorporated to the research other animal models, including snakes and lizards, as they might provide important clues to understand how the vertebrate body evolved to produce such a large variety of body architectures.
The control of vertebrate axial progenitors
The vertebrate body is made progressively from head to tail by sequential addition of new tissue at the caudal embryonic end.
This results from the activity of various progenitors with stem cell-like properties that can be classified in different groups according to the tissues they generate.Know more
- Aires, R., Jurberg, A. D., Leal, F., Nóvoa, A., Cohn, M. J., Mallo, M. (2016) Oct4 is a key regulator of vertebrate trunk length diversity Dev Cell 38 : 262-274
- Casaca, A., Nóvoa, A., Mallo, M. (2016) Hoxb6 can interfere with somitogenesis in the posterior embryo through a mechanism independent of its rib-promoting activityDevelopment 143 : 437-448
- Jurberg, A. D., Aires, R., Nóvoa, A., Rowland, J. E., Mallo, M (2014) Compartment-dependent activities of Wnt3a/β-catenin signaling during vertebrate axial extensionDev Biol 394 : 253-263
- Mallo, M., Alonso, C. R. (2013) The regulation of Hox gene expression during animal development Development 140 : 3951-3963
- Jurberg, A. D., Aires, R., Varela-Lasheras, I., Nóvoa, A., Mallo, M. (2013) Switching axial progenitors from producing trunk to tail tissues in vertebrate embryos Dev. Cell 25 : 451-462
- Guerreiro, I., Nunes, A., Woltering, J., Casaca, A., Nóvoa, A., Vinagre, T., Hunter, M. E., Duboule, D., Mallo, M. (2013) Role of a polymorphism in a Hox/Pax-responsive enhancer in the evolution of the vertebrate spine Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110 : 10682-10686
- Guerreiro, I., Casaca, A., Nunes, A., Monteiro, S., Nóvoa, A. Ferreira R. B., Joana Bom, J., Mallo, M. (2012) Regulatory role for a conserved motif adjacent to the homeodomain of Hox10 proteins Development 139 : 2703-2710
- Vinagre, T., Moncaut, N., Carapuço, M., Nóvoa, A., Bom, J., Mallo, M. (2010) Evidence for a myotomal Hox/Myf cascade governing non-autonomous control of rib specification within global vertebral domains Dev. Cell 18 : 655–661
- Mallo, M., Wellik, D. M., Deschamps, J. (2010) Hox Genes and Regional Patterning of the Vertebrate Body Plan Dev. Biol 344 : 7-15
- Young, T., Rowland, J. E., van de Ven, C.,Bialecka, M., Novoa, A., Carapuco, M., van Nes, J., de Graaff, W., Duluc, I., Freund, J. N., Beck, F., Mallo, M., Deschamps, J. (2009) Hox and Cdx genes differentially regulate posterior axial growth in mammalian embryos Dev Cell 17 : 516-526
- 16 jan 2020
- 25 sep 2019
Moises Mallo, Principal Investigator
PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Phone: +351 214464624