About the Project

Mammalian Organogenesis - Regulation by Gene Expression Networks (MORGEN)



The guiding question for the MORGEN project is:

How does the regulation of gene expression specify organogenesis?

The development of a creature from a single cell to a multi-cellular organism with each tissue and organ having a distinct architecture and function is truly remarkable. Cells must co-operate and communicate with one another so they divide, migrate, form connections, die, and change their identity in complex and co-ordinated patterns.

Understanding how regulation of gene expression controls the development of tissues and organs in the embryo has far reaching implications for medical therapies, ranging from the problems associated with repairing congenital defects to new promising technologies such as stem cell therapies and tissue engineering. To accomplish these goals, it is necessary to fully understand how organs form. The MORGEN project aims to investigate the gene networks that regulate this process.

In the MORGEN project we have chosen to focus on the development of three organs in the mouse embryo, the heart, pancreas and liver. In particular, we will focus on tissues in the heart involved in valve formation and septation of the chambers, in the pancreas on the formation of islet cells and in the liver on hepatocytes.

Gene expression profiles in the chosen tissues at different times of development are being generated using Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE). To understand how gene expression is controlled, the critical transcription factors that regulate these genes will be investigated. In addition, we will develop techniques to identify genome-wide binding patterns of these specific transcriptional factors using chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with SAGE (ChIP/SAGE).

The MORGEN project will provide a complete, permanent, and accurate picture of mouse gene expression in the heart (atrioventricular canal and outflow tract), pancreas, and liver; new techniques to understand the interplay of proteins governing the expression of genes key to the development of these organ systems; and the identification of the “master regulatory switches” that control development of the tissues.

As part of this project, we will be examining the critically important question regarding the impact and ethics of public data release. Also we are extending the public accessibility of our project beyond the scientific community by developing an Educational Outreach program to provide a forum for the interaction of high school science students and researchers.

Preparation of SAGE, ChIP PET and ChIP SAGE libraries

Serial Analysis of Gene Expression | Read our brief introduction to this process.

ChIP PET and ChIP SAGE | brief introduction (coming soon)


Funding for the MORGEN project has been provided by:

Genome Canada Genome BC BC Cancer Agency BC Cancer Foundation NCI BC Knowledge Development Funds (BCKDF) Juvinile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF) Vancouver Foundation Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research University of British Columbia (UBC)