DYNAMICS OF CELL FATE DECISION MAKING
Dr. Christian Schröter
since Mar 2016: Junior Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, DOrtmund
2011-2015: Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics, Univerisity of Cambridge, lab of Alfonso Martinez Arias.
2006-2010: PhD thesis and postdoctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, lab of Andy Oates
2005: Diploma thesis at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, lab of Ursula Klingmüller
The ordered differentiation of cells during the development of multicellular organisms is one of the most fascinating phenomena in biology. My lab studies the mechanisms that guide the underlying cell fate decisions, using mouse embryonic stem cells as a tractable model system.
We address this question at several levels. Firstly, we investigate how the quantities and dynamic changes of extracellular signaling molecules translate into the dynamic activation patterns of intracellular signaling pathways. Secondly, we want to quantitatively understand how cells integrate cues conveyed by diverse signaling molecules, and how they translate these cues into transcriptional programs. Lastly, we’re interested in deciphering how cell signaling coordinates fate decisions in groups of cells, something that is crucial during the formation of tissues and embryos.
At all these levels, we strive to gain a dynamic, quantitative understanding oft he processes at work – instead of just enumerating the molecular components involved, we want to elucidate how their dynamic interactions lead to specific functions.
We use embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as model system, harnessing their ability to differentiate into all cell types of the adult organism following exposure to specific signaling cues. We apply state of the art genome editing techniques to generate engineered cell lines, and assess cell differentiation with a range of techniques from biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology, such as Western blotting, qPCR, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry. We have a particularly strong focus on multicolor live cell imaging. In collaboration with theoreticians, we want to use the time-resolved, quantitative data generated by these approaches to develop mathematical models for decision-making processes in cells and tissues.
Schröter C, Rué P, Mackenzie JP, Martinez Arias A. FGF/MAPK signaling sets the switching threshold of a bistable circuit controlling cell fate decisions in embryonic stem cells. Development 2015, 142, 4205–4216.
Martinez Arias A, Nichols J, Schröter C. A molecular basis for developmental plasticity in early mammalian embryos. Development 2013, 140, 3499–3510.
Schröter C, Ares S, Morelli LG, Isakova A, Hens K, Soroldoni D, Gajewski M, Jülicher F, Maerkl SJ, Deplancke B, Oates AC. Topology and dynamics of the zebrafish segmentation clock core circuit. PLoS Biol 2012, 10, e1001364.