Dr. Dale Frank
Associate Professor of BiochemistryDepartment of Biochemistry & Faculty of Medicine,
The Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences
Israel Institute of Technology
972 48 295286
Fax: 972 48 535773
My research group studies the early regulation of nervous system development in vertebrate embryos. Frogs, like people, are vertebrates and early vertebrate development is controlled by the same gene products regardless of species. Using amphibians as a model vertebrate system, we investigate the crosstalk between transcription factors and signaling pathways during early neural cell-fate induction. Embryos start as one round large egg cell, which then divides rapidly into groups of cells with ball-like form. At a critical stage, cells migrate and elongate to make the typical body plan: the head-tail axis (anterior-posterior), the back-stomach axis (dorsal-ventral), and finally the left-right axis. In the nervous system, a nerve cell in the anterior-head makes a brain neuron or eye cell, whereas a nerve cell in the posterior-tail makes a motor-neuron. The location-dependence of cell fate is based on a capability of neural cells to monitor their position with respect to the embryonic axes. Our studies focus on the functions of the homeobox-transcription factor protein, Meis3, and its interactions with the Wnt-signaling pathway. These interactions determine how different cell fates are established in the embryo's developing brain and spinal cord.