David Shook, Senior Scientist
I’m interested in the biomechanical basis of morphogenic movements and in particular, how cells generate force and how those forces are integrated across tissues to drive those movements. I currently study how Plakoglobin and Keratin help facilitate adhesion and transduce force from cell to cell, as well as the mechanistic cellular basis for a recently characterized morphogenic movement, Convergent Thickening (CT), both in the frog Xenopus laevis. I’m also interested in how morphogenic mechanisms vary across species and in understanding how and why these variations evolved. For example, other frogs use CT differently than Xenopus, while salamanders appear to have a very different cellular basis for CT and also use a bilateral primitive streak ingression mechanism, largely absent in frogs, to internalize their mesoderm.