Research Expertise and Interest
stem cells, neural development, embryonic induction
The Roelink lab is interested in the mechanisms of embryonic induction, the phenomenon in which a group of cells changes the developmental fate of neighboring cells via the release of inducers. The molecular nature of these inducers is known and they belong to a relatively small number of families of signaling molecules. Invariably these molecules are involved both in the maintenance or differentiation of adult stem cells as well as in cancer. We are particularly interested in those inducers that are critical for neural tube patterning; Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) and members of the BMP and Wnt families. We are using both spinal cord organoids as well as chicken embryos to assess the effects of inducers and the molecules involved in their distribution, reception and intracellular signal transduction. We apply this knowledge to instruct embryonic stem cells to differentiate in vitro into desired cell types.