Gustavo Pacheco, a MSTP student in the DeSimone lab, has been awarded an NIH-NICHD F30 predoctoral fellowship to study integrin adhesion and signaling in the gastrulation process.
An especially critical period of morphogenesis is gastrulation, a period of dynamic cellular rearrangements that establish the three tissue germ layers of ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm in the embryo. While the morphogenetic movements of gastrulation have been characterized, the metabolic processes that support these energetically expensive movements remain poorly understood. This project will investigate the role of integrin adhesion and signaling in regulating carbon metabolism and mitochondrial localization during the energy intensive process of collective cell migration at gastrulation. By understanding the mechanisms that engage tissue rearrangements in gastrulation during human development, we will expand our knowledge of congenital malformations that may arise from dysregulated interactions between adhesive signaling and cellular energetics.