Morphogenesis in Development
Carl-Philipp Heisenberg studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which vertebrate embryos take shape. To obtain insights into critical processes in vertebrate morphogenesis, such as cell adhesion, migration, and polarization, the Heisenberg group focuses on gastrulation movements in zebrafish. Gastrulation is a highly conserved morphogenetic process describing the transformation of a seemingly unstructured blastula into a highly organized gastrula-stage embryo composed of the three germ layers ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Zebrafish is an ideal organism to study gastrulation movements as embryos develop outside of the mother and are easily accessible for both experimental and genetic manipulations. To analyze gastrulation movements, the Heisenberg group uses a multi-disciplinary approach employing a combination of genetic, cell biological, biochemical and biophysical techniques. Utilizing these different experimental tools, they are unraveling the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying zebrafish gastrulation movements.