Identification of genes involved in early thyroid gland developmental specification
We have generated a library of genes expressed in mice embryonic thyroid and uncovered new genes potentially important for thyroid development and/or thyroid function. We are currently studying the expression of the candidate genes in zebrafish and/or mouse thyroid tissue. On the other hand, taking a reverse genetics approach, we are analyzing the phenotype of the zebrafish invalidated for the selected genes.
The zebrafish is a powerful model for studying embryonic development, with several
advantages over other animal models; high fecundity, external fertilization (allowing
manipulation of embryos) and rapid development of optically clear embryos.
In addition, invalidation of genes can be easily achieved in the zebrafish embryo by
injecting antisense oligonucleotides (morpholinos).
MicroRNAs and ontogeny of the thyroid tissue
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non coding RNAs that can regulate gene expression by
base-pairing to partially complementary mRNAs. One miRNA can regulate several genes and expression of one gene can be controlled by several miRNAs. Nevertheless, most miRNAs are expressed in a highly tissue-specific manner and can regulate some specific aspects of embryonic development.
Our project is to study the role of miRNAs in the ontogeny of the thyroid tissue, from
early embryonic stages to the adult.
From Embryonic stem cells to thyroid follicular cells
Embryonic stem cells (ES) cells are unique tools for studying cell differentiation and are
capable of recapitulating the first stages of different cell type specification.
Our goal, is to delineate the transcriptional network specifying the thyroid fate by ectopic expression of thyroid specific transcription factors using mouse ES cells.