Pourqui Lab clarifies mode of formation of spinal precursors

Tadahiro Iimura, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate in the Pourqui Lab, is the lead author on a paper challenging controversial theories about the mode of formation of the vertebral column precursor, known as the paraxial mesoderm.

The paper, "Dual mode of paraxial mesoderm formation during chick gastrulation," which was posted to the Web site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that the cellular mode of paraxial mesoderm formation is largely conserved across vertebrates.

"Until now, we believed that spine precursors developed one way in lower vertebrates and another way in birds, reptiles, and mammals," said Olivier Pourqui, PhD., Stowers Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "These findings demonstrate that both of those development modes are present in both lower and higher vertebrates."

"These findings are important because we clarify fundamental cellular mechanisms of spine precursor formation," said Dr. Iimura. "We believe this information will help us to understand the origins of congenital spine disorders, such as congenital scoliosis, and will eventually lead to better treatment options."

Xuesong Yang and Cornelis J. Weijer of the Division of Cell and Developmental Biology at Wellcome Trust Biocentre at the University of Dundee also contributed to this publication.

Dr. Pourqui also holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at The University of Kansas School of Medicine.


Contact: Marie Jennings
Stowers Institute for Medical Research

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