Professor Alfonso Martinez-Arias
The structure and function of living matter
Department of Genetics
We are interested in the structure and function of Living Matter with a special interest in developmental processes which create tissues and organs from single cells through defined programme of gene expression. Cells have the capacity to read and interpret those programmes and change accordingly. Our research is focused on how this happens using a combination of classical genetics, quantitative measurements, image analysis and modelling.
We use mouse Embryonic Stem (ES) cells and Drosophila Intestinal Stem Cells (ISC) to ask questions about:
- Stochastic and deterministic processes in cell fate decisions
- Cell and tissue dynamics during morphogenesis:
- Wnt/Notch signalling in developmental homeostasis
We work at the interface of developmental biology as believe that it is here that we shall uncover processes that will improve our ability to controls the differentiation of stem cell into specific cell types. Furthermore, we prefer to focus on the engineering of these processes rather than, solely, on the molecules associated with them.
Figure 1: analysis and modelling of the expression of Nanog in mouse ES cells. For details see Kalmar, T., Lim, C., Hayward, P., Muñoz Descalzo, S., Garcia Ojalvo, J. and Martinez Arias, A. (2009) Regulated fluctuations in Nanog expression mediate cell fate decisions in embryonic stem cells. PLoS Biol 7(7): e1000149. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000149