Welcome to the Kicheva lab

Our lab is interested in understanding how cell diversification and tissue growth are controlled during development to produce organs with correct final sizes and pattern.

We use vertebrate neural tube development as a model system, where an elaborate pattern of multiple distinct neural progenitor cell types is generated along the dorsoventral axis. At the opposite poles of the neural tube, specialised cells secrete signalling molecules, called morphogens, which spread and form gradients of concentration across the tissue. Cells respond to morphogens in order to determine their position within the tissue and their identity. Morphogens also control tissue growth, but the precise mechanisms are unknown. Our research goals are to unravel:

  • how morphogens control growth in the developing neural tube
  • how cells integrate signalling from opposing morphogen gradients
  • how tissue growth is coordinated with the specification of cell types

To address these questions, we develop and use quantitative experimental approaches that help us relate experiments to theoretical frameworks. We work in close collaborations with physicists.

a) Cross-section through the developing spinal cord. b) Signaling activity gradients of BMP (red) and Shh (green). c) BrdU/IdU incorporation in the chick neural tube used to measure the rate of proliferation. d) Pattern of the mouse neural tube: these molecular markers allow us to distinguish 5 distinct progenitor domains along the DV axis. 


EU logo
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement #680037). For more information, click here.