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Hi, I'm Mark Peifer from
the Department of Biology and
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
at the University of North Carolina,
I'd like to take chance to tell you today
about some of the work from our own lab,
and how it fits together in the broader
field of the cell biology of normal
Since early in my career, I've been
interested in what I view as one of
the most exciting topics in biology:
how a fertilized egg becomes an animal,
like my daughter.
This is a big problem, and in order to
study it in a single lab, one needs to
break it down into smaller problems
that one can assess experimentally.
One of the problems in which my lab is
interested is how cells self-assemble
into tissues and
organs during embryogenesis.
This is a really remarkable process,
as it's directed solely by
the genetic information and
the interactions between cells.
In order understand this process fully
we need to understand how things work at
every level of biological organization,
from the level of the entire animal,
to the level of tissue, to what
happens within individual cells, and
to the molecules that act within cells to
mediate processes like cell adhesion and
The idea that cells can specifically
recognize neighbors has been around since
At that time, Holtfreter did
the experiment illustrated here.
He disassociated cells from different
embryonic tissues and mixed them, and
found that when he did so the cells could
sort out from one another, finding their
correct neighbor, and sorting from the
other neighbors of different tissue types.
We now know this results from
differential expression of cadherins
in different tissues.