Using stem cells to sense and report developmental signalling gradients: towards advanced spatial in vitro models of embryogenesis
Here we aim to develop biological tools for investigating spatial effects of signalling on cell fate and patterning. To do so, the physical environment of cells will be constrained to mimic a variety of informative geometries using 3D printing or micropatterning technologies. Mammalian cells with fluorescent reporters (“sensor” cells) will be monitored in real time, and used to report developmental signalling gradients secreted by a second population of synthetically constructed cells with inducible expression of signalling molecules (“controller” cells), allowing appropriate statistics to be automatically generated. This will serve as a platform for developing affordable in vitro models of embryo development with spatio-temporal resolution of cell fate decisions.
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