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Early lineage specification in mammalian embryos

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Dr B Plusa Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Growing understanding of the pre-implantation mammalian development resulted in significant advances in assisted reproduction techniques and in regenerative medicine field. Pluripotent precursors of both embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and foetus cells arise within inner cell mass (ICM) of the mammalian blastocyst. The process that leads to the specification of pluripotent population is still not very well understood. This project will explore how the epiblast (a pluripotent cell lineage) and primitive endoderm (a supportive tissue) differentiates within ICM. In particular, we want to determine whether the signals initiating epiblast specification result from cell-cell and cell-environment interactions or whether the process remains under the genetic control of transcriptional factors. We also want to clarify what factors are crucial for the stabilisation of the epiblast lineage during development.

In this project, student will have a chance to learn basic molecular biology methods as well as more advance methods used in experimental embryology and IVF clinics, such as embryo handling and culture, microinjection and micromanipulation.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website ( For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (

Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.


Saiz N, Grabarek J.B, Sabherwal N, Papalopulu N, Plusa B. Atypical protein kinase C couples cell sorting with primitive endoderm maturation in the mouse blastocyst. Development 2013 Nov;140(21):4311-2

Grabarek JB, Zyzynska K, Piliszek A , Saiz N, Frankenberg S, Nichols J., Hadjantonakis A-K and Plusa B. 2012 Embryo Environment Restricts the Developmental Plasticity of Epiblast Precursors; Development, Jan; 139(1):129-39. Epub 2011 Nov 17

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