BAKER LAB Stanford University


Main Goal

Our main focus is to understand the signals necessary for patterning and specifying diverse cellular fates during gastrulation in the mouse. Mouse gastrulation, even more so than amphibian and teleost gastrulation, is a period of vast differentiation and growth. During this stage, the mouse embryo transitions from having only two cell types to having hundreds. Although an incredibly rich source of cell signaling, the mouse gastrula has not been used by molecular biologists to mine for molecules. This is mainly due to the size (100 Ám) and inaccessibility of the mouse gastrula, which therefore precludes the effective use of biochemistry, embryology and molecular assays in general.


We have devised a screen that identifies molecules involved in cell-fate specification during mouse gastrulation. This approach delivers random combinations of cDNAs from mouse gastrula libraries into the more tractable Xenopus embryo. We then observe these embryos for changes in specific marker gene expression, indicating changes (positive or negative) in cell-fate. We are particularly interested in the alteration of mesodermal, endodermal, neural, endothelial and somitic cell-fate decisions. Using this screen we have identified over 40 molecules, several of which have no previously understood function.



Lab Stuff