Lab Overview

Our lab is interested in how genetic information is decoded to generate the precise three-dimensional shapes of organs. As a model, we study the facial cartilages and bones of the larval zebrafish, which can be continuously imaged over time in living transgenic embryos. Specific research topics include the developmental origins of the neural crest progenitor cells that build the craniofacial skeleton, how these progenitors are selected to form cartilage versus bone and then assembled into region-specific shapes, and how folding of the neighboring epithelial tissues orchestrates this patterning. We are also interested in how the facial skeleton can be rebuilt into its correct shape following severe injuries. As many of the genes we study in fish play similar roles during human facial development, our findings are helping explain a variety of human craniofacial birth defects and providing novel insights into how to better stimulate bone repair in patients.

  • pharyngeal pouch
    Still images from time-lapse movies of pharyngeal pouch development allow the reconstruction of cell movements during epithelial morphogenesis. (Image courtesy of the Crump Lab)
  • Adult zebrafish head
    Adult zebrafish head skeleton stained for bone. (Image courtesy of the Crump Lab)
  • Dissection of the larval zebrafish
    Dissection of the larval zebrafish skeleton shows facial cartilage (blue) and bone (red) from a ventral view. (Image courtesy of the Crump Lab)
  • Fluorescent in situs
    Fluorescent in situs reveal fine patterning of pharyngeal arch domains in zebrafish embryos. (Image courtesy of the Crump Lab)
  • Transgenic lines
    Transgenic lines allow us to follow the development of facial cartilages over time in living embryos. (Image courtesy of the Crump Lab)
  • Within the pharyngeal arches
    Within the pharyngeal arches, interactions of neural-crest-derived mesenchyme (green) and epithelia (red) determine the shape of the facial skeleton. (Image courtesy of the Crump Lab)