A fundamental part of how embryos develop is the communication that takes place via protein receptors on the surface of cells. Signals relayed through these receptors instruct cells to assume distinct identities and eventually form individual tissues and organs. Innovative microscopy techniques are now enabling researchers in the Kat Hadjantonakis lab at the Sloan Kettering Institute to visualize this signaling process in living mouse embryos, as seen in these videos and discussed in the lab’s latest paper, published October 21 in the journal Developmental Cell.
Learning more about signaling pathways has implications for understanding and treating cancer. Some of the same signaling pathways driving normal cellular differentiation are coopted by cancers, allowing them to grow and spread. These pathways have also been shown to play a role in the development of drug resistance.