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Khokha Lab

Research Interests

Embryonic Patterning

Research Area

The Khokha lab is interested in the genes and developmental mechanisms that lead to birth defects (congenital malformations). Our approach is novel gene discovery in congenital malformation patients followed by developmental mechanism discovery in Xenopus. Our lab is interested in understanding the problem of embryonic patterning. After fertilization, the egg must enact a carefully orchestrated genetic program in order to properly construct adult structures. If this process fails, it can lead to congenital malformations, a major cause of illness in children.

Current Members

Khokha, Mustafa K (Principal Investigator/Director) Contact
DIARRA, SALIMATA (Research Associate/Assistant)


Aslam, Faiza (Post-doc)
Bibi, Anisa (Other)

Additional Information

As the embryo transitions from different stages of development (blastula, gastrula, neurula, and tadpole), signals must be delivered to change cell fates, generate particular tissues, and pattern the embryo. Our goal is to identify these signals and determine their function. In particular, we are interested in the signals that pattern the early embryo defining the embryonic axes (anteroposterior and dorsoventral) that then define the adult body plan. In order to identify these patterning signals and their role during development, we use the frog Xenopus as a model system as well as the mouse. Xenopus has remarkable advantages as a model system since embryos can be easily manipulated, obtained in massive numbers, and develop rapidly and externally allowing for easy observation. In particular we are interested in developing genetic analysis in Xenopus using the diploid frog Xenopus tropicalis. Our goal is to perform forward genetic screens, identify interesting mutant phenotypes, and clone the affected genes. Xenopus is then ideal for dissecting the signaling mechanisms. In addition, we intend to identify the regulatory elements that determine gene expression in order to generate gene regulatory networks that are essential to develop proper embryonic pattern. Finally, using the frog system, we will also identify genes of substantial interest and genetically analyze them in the mouse. In this manner, we hope to better understand the roles of patterning genes in mammalian development and their potential for causing human disease.


Institution: Yale University School of Medicine

ILAR Code: Khok

Department of Pediatrics
Yale School of Medicine
P.O. Box 208064
New Haven, CT
06520, USA

Web Page:

Phone: (203) 785-4651

Fax: (203) 785-5833