Project: Research project

Project Details


Many of the processes by which a population of apparently similar
blastomeres in the early embryo develops into a differentiated organism
remain largely unexplored, despite the fact that developmental
abnormalities are presumably traceable to defects in these processes. One
such process is the disappearance of gap junctions with the onset of
deteminative events, which might provide the isolation of cells necessary
for differentiation. We have recently shown that intercellular
communication among embryonic cells via gap junctions can be disrupted by a
variety of agents, some of which (pH and voltage) may provide physiological
regulation; we propose to examine whether known teratogens similarly affect
intracellular communication. We have also developed optical techniques for
detecting resting potentials and intracellular pH of cells within a
developing embryo; we propose to follow changes in voltage and pH within
single cells and cell groups while development progresses. Preliminary
data suggest that regional differences in resting potential occur during
gastrulation and that separate developmental compartments are
distinguishable by this criterion alone. We propose to examine whether
coupling occurs across compartmental boundaries and whether abolition of
these boundaries disrupts development. Using pharmacological agents that
selectively disrupt gap junctions, we hope to determine whether blockade at
certain stages arrests development. This work will utilize embryos of
fish, amphibia and mouse. The significance of this project is that it is
directed toward understanding processes in early development that determine
differentiation into a functional organism and whether abnormalities in
development caused by chemical agents are attributable to the disruption of
these processes.
Effective start/end date1/1/901/1/90


  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology