ashley [dot] bruce (at)utoronto [dot] ca
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord St.
Canada M5S 3G5
The goal of my research program is to answer the question of how cell movements are coordinated during embryonic development. Transformation of a simple cleavage stage embryo into a complex adult relies upon an exquisite series of carefully orchestrated cell movements. In all animals, dramatic cellular rearrangements generate the multilayered body plan by a process termed gastrulation. Although modes of gastrulation vary widely in the animal kingdom, they all draw upon a set of relatively simple cell behaviors, different combinations of which generate the array of different gastrulation patterns observed in nature. By examining cell behaviors in the experimentally tractable zebrafish system, we will learn about general cellular properties and mechanisms of cell movements that are likely to be widely used throughout animal development. This knowledge should also be useful in understanding disease states resulting from abnormal cell movements, such as congenital birth defects.