Our lab studies basic mechanisms by which signaling between cells coordinates morphogenesis. Understanding this control has significance beyond its fundamental importance in development since birth defects are the leading cause of death for infants during the first year of life. Craniofacial anomalies are a common class of congenital defect in humans, with three quarters of all malformations identified at birth involving craniofacial dysmorphogenesis.

We utilize multiple approaches based in mouse genetics to understand fundamental signaling processes as they relate to development and disease. In addition to targeted and conditional gene disruption in mice, we generate mice harboring targeted point mutations that disrupt specific signal transduction pathways. By integrating these in-vivo approaches with embryo culture, live imaging, mass spectrometry-based phospho-proteomics, cell biology and biochemistry, we seek to understand the mechanistic basis of signaling control of craniofacial development.

Our lab is a part of the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, the Program in Craniofacial Biology, and the Institute for Human Genetics at UCSF

April, 2015-Publication from first author post-doc Seungil Kim

A paper entitled "Convergence and Extrusion Are Required for Normal Fusion of the Mammalian Secondary Palate" was published in the April edition of PLOS Biology. This work utilizes live imaging to understand the cellular mechanisms of tissue fusion in the developing secondary palate. ItSeungil Kim identifies convergence of the epithelium driven by actomyosin contractility and cellular extrusion as important and previously unappreciated drivers of this morphogenesis.


May, 2015-Masters student Aqib Khan defends his thesis
California State Univsersity, East Bay student Aqib Khan successfully defended his masters thesis on his work in the lab on suture formation. Aqib will begin as a Dental student at the University of Minesota in the fall.
June, 2015-Puja Agrawal moves on to M.D. Ph.D. studies

Puja Agrawal, an SRAI who started in the lab as a Berkeley undergraduate whas moved on to M.D. Ph.D.studies Aceat the Medical College of Wisconsin.During Puja's time in the lab, she made major contributions to our studies o fEphA/ephrin-A signaling in craniofacial development and had a first-author publication on this topic.

October, 2015-Publication from first author Ace Lewis
A publication entitled "Neural crest defects in ephrin-B2 mutant mice are non-autonomous and originate fromAce defects in the vasculature" was published in the October issue of Developmental Biology. The paper makes the surprising discovery that ephrin-B2 does not directly participate in neural crest guidance in the manner previously understood, but rather that normal angiogenesis is of fundamental importance to neural crest survival. This paper further clarifies other non-vascular roles for ephrin-B2 during development.