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Identification of key molecular players in thymus development
Portugal (PorMSIC) - University of Lisbon, Lisbon
Institute of Histology and Developmental Biology
Maria Leonor Parreira
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
The thymus is a primary lymphoid organ responsible for T-cell development. In development, the thymic rudiment derives from the endoderm of the pharyngeal pouches (PP). The PP with thymic potential varies in number and location among vertebrates and accessory thymi can be found in the abnormal locations in humans. These evidences suggest a phylogenetically conserved genetic program to "make a thymus" embodied in the endoderm of all PP. Recently, using a modified chick-quail chimera system, we obtained an ectopic thymus from the 2PP endoderm, a non-canonical pouch for thymic development in the chicken (and mammalian). In this project will be studied the transcriptome of several PP endoderm. The knowledge on thymus ontogeny derived from this project is expected to pave the way for future strategies to restore thymic function in humans and to produce thymic-organoids to be used in regenerative therapies.
What is the aim of the project?
The project aims to identify the conserved genetic programme(s) to form a thymus.
What techniques and methods are used?
The technique of whole-mount in situ hybridization of chicken embryos will be used (task 1). The bioinformatic analysis of transcriptomes will be applied to study distinct biological samples (task2).
What is the role of the student?
- The student will observe the practical experiments but will be highly involved in the analysis of the results
- If the project includes “lab work”
- the student will take active part in the practical aspect of the project
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
Task 1 – To detect the thymus domain in the 3rd and 4th pharyngeal pouch in chicken embryos. For that, chicken embryos with 3 and 4,5 days of development will be whole-mount in situ hybridized with Foxn1, a thymic marker. Task 2 – To identify new genes involved in the formation of the thymus. For that, the student will analyze data collected from biological samples containing developing thymi. The transcriptome profiles will be analyzed by bioinformatic methodologies.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
Basic knowledge in developmental biology.
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- The student will prepare a presentation - The student will prepare a scientific report - The student’s name will be mentioned in a future publication
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Subjects passed: Basic course in developmental biology. Willingness to do practical laboratory work. Curiosity to learn and explore developmental biology concepts.
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts: - Medical students - Graduated students (less than 6 months) - Pre-Medical students from the American-British system
- Figueiredo M*; Silva JC*; Santos AS; Proa V; Alcobia I; Zilhão R; Cidadão A; Neves H. Notch and Hedgehog in the thymus/parathyroid common primordium: Crosstalk in organ formation. DevelopmentalBiology 418:268-82. 2016. DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.08.012. *Firstcoauthors
- Neves H; Dupin E; Parreira L; Le Douarin NM. Modulation of Bmp4 signalling in the epithelial– mesenchymal interactions that take place in early thymus and parathyroid development in avian embryos. DevelopmentalBiology 361: 208–219. 2012. DOI 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.10.022.
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