In Vivo Multicellular Dynamics of Neural Crest Stem Cell Migration

Type of Award: Catalyst
Date Awarded: June 2016
Award End Date: May 2018
Amount Awarded: $ 250,000.00
PI(s): Ankur Saxena, PhD, UIC; Victoria E. Prince, PhD, UChicago;

Abstract: To find solutions for human birth defects, we must understand how vertebrate embryonic development goes awry, but first we must understand how it occurs correctly. The complexity of vertebrate embryogenesis has led to a pressing need for context-dependent, quantitative information regarding how progenitor cells interact system-wide and cooperatively give rise to a variety of cell types and structures. Therefore, we investigate outstanding questions in developmental neurobiology in their natural context, i.e. in vivo, and are particularly intrigued by how the migration of neural crest stem cells produces a variety of neuronal and non-neuronal derivatives. This proposal embraces advances in imaging technologies to observe, manipulate, and quantitate cell-cell interactions and migration at unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution in live zebrafish embryos. The resulting sharper view of systems-level cell biology can shed new light on vertebrate stem cell behavior, the formation of complex body plans, cancer metastasis, and a host of other processes.