Laboratory of Cell Genetics:
Research group of Luc Leyns
Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Genes and signaling molecules in patterning and cellular differentiation.

One of the challenge of developmental and stem cell biology is to understand how cells know their position in the embryo and tissues and react upon it by proliferating, migrating and differentiating to form the embryo and to maintain functional organs.

To address these questions we are studying the role of secreted molecules during the early phase of development when an embryo composed initially of a few thousand pluripotent cells will be organized in three germ layers (ecto-, meso- and endoderm) with an antero-posterior axis (head to tail) and a dorso-ventral axis (belly to back).

To strenghten the results obtained by studying embryos, we are also analyzing the signals triggering the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Moreover, some of the embryonic signals are also overactivated in adult tissues leading to cancer.


In the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology group, we are focusing on:

  • The role of the several signaling pathways in development and homeostasis by using transgenic mice and gene expression studies

  • Modeling the embryonic development by differentiating in vitro embryonic stem cell into muscle or neurons

  • Identifying the signaling pathways involved in some cancers involving the unregulated growth of stem cell, in particular in neural tissue.


The techniques used ranges from Real-Time PCR, in situ hybridization, embryo microculture to stem cell in vitro differentiation.



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