To gain a comprehensive and dynamic understanding of embryonic development is a formidable challenge, as hundreds of genes function at any particular moment to effect developmental change. To assay progression of developmental events, we develop and employ novel technologies for making temporally relevant observations using a combined approach of imaging, computation, and molecular biology. In particular, we have focused significant efforts towards development of technology and methodology to support quantitative data acquisition ('in vivo phenotyping'), which lends to more clear comparison of wildtype and mutant phenotype.
Two goals of our research program are to better understand (i) the cis-regulatory mechanisms by which spatial and temporal gene expression is controlled and (ii) how signaling pathways function to control differentiation and to regulate cell movements. We use large-scale whole genome observations to reveal the genes and cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) that comprise these networks and defined experiments to understand how they come together to control cellular behaviors within the Drosophila melanogaster model system. Most of our studies have focused on early embryonic development up to and including gastrulation, as large gene expression changes and strong cell movements are required to turn the totipotent blastula into a multi-layered embryo of distinct cell types. In addition, recent efforts have extended our focus to the cis-regulatory and signaling mechanisms guiding development of specialized tissues, in the wing and female germline.
Through our studies, we strive to understand the underlying logic of cis-regulatory control of gene expression, how gene regulatory network structure can influence patterning/differentiation/signaling, and how cellular behaviors are organized during collective cell movements. These are inter-related problems that are relevant for the development of all animals, and as such have far reaching implications.
In the news
"Wheel of Fate"
Reeves et al. study is featured as a Biomedical Picture of the Day.
"Development: Robust but responsive protein gradients"
Reeves et al. study is highlighted by Nature Reviews Genetics
"FGF signalling: keeping migrating cells on track"
The recent paper by Kadam, Ghosh, and Stathopoulos is highlighted by Development journal.
"Snail enhancers step out of the shade"
The paper by Dunipace, Ozdemir, and Stathopoulos is highlighted by Development journal.
Caltech Researchers Revise Long-Held Theory of Fruit-Fly Development
Caltech Press Release (Dec. 17, 2009) by Lori Oliwenstein
First Prize in Celldance 2009 - The ASCB's Fifth Annual Cell Biology Video Contest
Professor Stathopoulos accepts the first place prize for the film "2PEF Imaging Captures Gastulation in Fly Embryos." Work by Amy McMahon, Willy Supatto, Scott E. Fraser, and Angelike Stathopoulos, Science (2008).
Development: Remembering Hedgehog
Nature Reviews Genetics 10, 740-741 (Nov. 2009) by Tanita Casci. The recent paper by Nahmad and Stathopoulos is highlighted in a short review paper.
Cells in developing tissue consider their signaling exposure history to determine location
Caltech Press Release (Sep. 29, 2009) by Kathy Svitil
Amy McMahon wins 2009 Drosophila Image Award
Embryonic Development: First Look At How Groups Of Cells Coordinate Their Movements
ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008)
Complex dance of embryo cells filmed in new detail
New Scientist (Dec. 4, 2008) by Colin Barras