Research Fellows Directory
Jacqueline Kim Dale
Dr Jacqueline Kim Dale
University of Dundee
We have looked at the role the Notch signalling pathway plays in the cell fate choice that takes place in a small pool of self renewing progenitor cells called Hensen’s node, in the developing chick embryo. This progenitor pool contributes cells to two very important tissues, namely the floor plate which is a cell group that occupy the ventral floor of the neural tube, or developing spinal cord, and the notochord which is a rod of mesoderm that runs the length of the body directly beneath the developing spinal cord. These two tissues play a crucial role in the developing embryo, namely to pattern the dorso-ventral axis of the neural tube inducing the differentiation of specific neurons at specific positions along this axis. These tissues are found in all vertebrate embryos and their role is highly conserved. We found the Notch pathway biases the progenitor cells in Hensen’s node to choose the floor plate fate and Notch signalling is also required to maintain the floor plate fate. We have found a novel role for Notch signalling in setting the appropriate response in neural cells to the morphogen signal that induces the floor plate. We hope to elucidate what other pathways are involved in these cell fate choices and how these different pathways interact. We hope that these studies will inform our understanding of the molecular basis of cell fate decisions in ES cells in vitro.
We are also looking at the molecular mechanism that acts a pacemaker in the process of making the segmented body plan of the vertebrate embryo. This segmented body plan is vitally important to providing both flexibility and rigidity to the spine. The formation of the segments is under tight temporal control and follows a strict species specific periodicity. We have found that Wnt signalling is required in both mouse and chick to set the optimal pace of segmentation.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)