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Research interests

The primary aim of our research group is to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie the migration and differentiation of Neural Crest cells. Neural Crest cells are a transient migratory population that arises early during embryonic development, differentiates into a wide range of cell types (including neurons, glial cells, cartilage, melanocytes, etc.) and migrate extensively colonising virtually all the tissues of the embryo. Neural Crest cells share numerous characteristics with cancer cell, but are readily accessible to morphological and molecular analysis. These features make Neural Crest cells a particularly attractive model system to study the molecular signals regulating cell migration and fate determination. The combination of genetics tools, offered by zebrafish transgenic lines, with live cell imaging permit the study these questions in vivo. Recently we have developed a new transgenic line, the Mosaic Analysis system in Zebrafish (MAZe), that allow us to follow in live embryos single cells, fluorescently marked and genetically altered. This tool permits a detailed molecular and cellular analysis of Neural Crest migration and the clonal study of their differentiation. Given the importance of cell migration and differentiation in many biological processes, from embryogenesis to tissue homeostasis, and their implication in many types of cancers, our findings in Neural Crest cells will shed light on the mechanism of metastasis and may unveil novel targets for cancer therapies.<br /> <br /> Publications <ol> <li>Collins, R., Linker, C. and Lewis, J. A new tool for lineage tracing and mosaic analysis in zebrafish. (2010) Nature Methods. Nat Methods. 2010 Mar;7(3):219-23.</li> <li>Steventon B., Araya A., Linker C. and Mayor R. (2009) Differential requirements of BMP and Wnt signaling during gastrulation and neurulation define two steps in neural crest induction. Development. 136(5):771-9.</li> <li>Linker C.*, de Almeida I., Papanayotou C., Sabado, V., Streit, A., Mayor R., Stern C*. (2009) Neural induction by BMP inhibition requires cellular continuity with the neural plate border. Dev Biol. 327(2):478-86. *Corresponding authors.</li> <li>de Almeida I., Batut J., Hill C., Stern C. D,* and Linker C.* (2008) Unexpected activities of Smad7 in Xenopus mesodermal and neural induction. Mech Dev. 125(5-6):421-31. *Corresponding authors.</li> <li>Linker C. and Stern C. (2007) Neural induction &ndash; the chick view. The New Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Elsevier.</li> <li>Linker C.* &Dagger;, Lesbros C.*, Gros J., Burrus L.W., Rawls A. and Marcelle C. &Dagger;. (2005) b-Catenin-dependent Wnt signaling controls the epithelial organization of somites through the activation of paraxis. Development 132(17):3895-905. *Co-first author. &Dagger;Corresponding authors.</li> <li>Linker C. and Stern C. (2004) Neural induction requires BMP inhibition only as a late step, and involves signals other than FGF and Wnt antagonists. Development. 131(22):5671-5681.</li> <li>Linker C. *, Lesbros C. *, Stark M. and Marcelle C. (2003) Intrinsic signals regulate the initial steps of myogenesis in vertebrates. Development. 130(20):4797-807. *Co-first author.</li> <li>Church V., Nohno T., Linker C., Marcelle C. and Francis-West P. (2002) Wnt regulation of chondrocyte differentiation. J Cell Sci. 115(Pt 24):4809-18.</li> <li>Marcelle C., Lesbros C. and Linker C. (2002). Somite patterning: a few more pieces of the puzzle. In Vertebrate Myogenesis. B. Brand-Saberi, Ed. Springer Verlag</li> <li>Linker C., Bronner-Fraser M. and Mayor R. (2000) Relationship between gene expression domains of Xsnail, Xslug, and Xtwist and cell movement in the prospective neural crest of Xenopus. Developmental Biology. 224(2): 215&ndash;225</li> <li>Marchant L., Linker C., Ruiz P., Guerrero N. and Mayor R. (1998) The inductive properties of mesoderm suggest that the neural crest cells are specified by a BMP gradient. Developmental Biology. 198(2):319-29.</li> <li>Marchant L., Linker C. and Mayor R. (1998) Inhibition of mesoderm formation by follistatin. Development, Genes and Evolution. 1998 208(3):157-60.</li> </ol>

Research interests (short)

Cell biology; developmental biology; molecular biology; cell migration; cell differentiation; zebrafish

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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