Dr Berenika Plusa

Lecturer

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Overview

In our research we aim to identify the critical stages in early mammalian development (before implantation) when important decisions for further development take place. Determining critical moments of development when embryos may be more prone to damage is vital for improving the efficiency and safety of assisted reproduction procedures for human embryos and also for better efficiency of these techniques in domestic animals or wild species of mammals (where assisted reproduction techniques can be used for preservation of endangered species). Early mammalian development is very unique among other species. In this system, establishment of body axis and the specification of cell fate are not driven by the segregation of maternally-inherited determinants but rather depend on cell-cell communication during early stages of development. Our current research concentrates on determination of the developmental stage when cells begin to lose plasticity (ability to contribute to all embryonic and extra-embryonic lineages) and become committed to a particular lineage. We also work to determine whether the signals initiating early lineage specification come from cell-cell and cell-environment interaction or whether the process remains under the genetic control of transcriptional factors. W also investigate what factors are crucial for the stabilisation of cell fate during development.

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