Regulation of the germline and fetal organ growth by environmental cues

Research area

 |  Infertility, epigenetics

Keywords

 |  Cellular stress, infertility, fetal growth, epigenetics

Suitability

 |  Honours, Masters

Project description

The cells that form into sperm and eggs in adults play a unique and fundamental role in human health and well-being, because they transmit the parent’s genes to the next generation. In addition to transmitting DNA, gametes also carry the ‘epigenome’, chromatin modifications that determine which genes are switched on and off. However, when sperm and egg precursors form during pregnancy, the fetus may be exposed to profound changes in the maternal environment brought on by pre-eclampsia, medications and infection. To understand how fetal exposure to maternal stressors affects the sperm and egg precursors and affects growth of organs in the fetus as well as the placenta. Projects may use materials from animal models, human clinical samples, and cell lines. The intended outcomes are to identify genes and proteins that are required for normal development and to evaluate their downstream impacts on cellular functions.