We are interested in the developmental biology of haematopoietic cells, in particular, the creation of the first haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs in the adult bone marrow sustain blood production throughout life but they are created during embryogenesis through processes which are not well understood. During embryogenesis, several waves of blood creation take place but only one creates HSCs. The Xenopus embryo offers a unique opportunity to study the creation of HSCs because of the physical separation of the earliest HSC progenitors from those of other blood lineages. Thus, the gene regulatory networks programming HSCs from nascent mesodermal cells are being established. Since HSCs emergence is intimately associated with the main embryonic artery, the dorsal aorta, we are also interested in the development of the vascular system. We expect that the knowledge generated in this research will inform protocols for the creation of HSCs in vitro from pluripotent stem cells such as induced pluripotent stem cells.
MRC Molecular Haematology unit
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
John Radcliffe Hospital
University of Oxford
OX3 9DS, United Kingdom