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- Cell and Developmental Biology, Genetics
Organ formation is a fascinating process during embryonic development. Among the many organs in the body, there is a preponderance of tubular organs, including stomach, intestine, heart and blood vessels, several glands, lungs in humans, trachea in lower vertebrates. I am interested in understanding the cell biological processes underlying formation these organs as well as the genes that help differentiate cells forming one organ from cells forming another organ. In addition, I am interested in identifying genes that are important for defining the shape of the organ, its position in the embryo and those necessary for proper functioning of the organs.
Neurons have two main processes : axons for transmitting information and dendrites for receiving signals. Axons and dendrites differ in length, morphology and in the signals that control their growth. During neuronal injury, it is known that loss of axons results in dendritic retraction. Therefore, it is important to understand the signals that are involved in extension and retraction of dendrites. One of the molecules that is known to induce dendritic growth belongs to a class of growth factors known as Bone Morphogenetic Proteins or BMPs. My current studies are focused on understanding the complexity of how BMPs interact with other signaling pathways and lead to the ultimate shape, number and length of dendrites in a particular neuron.