Wednesday, February 21, 2018
4:00 pm
Noyes 153 (J. Holmes Sturdivant Lecture Hall)

Organic Chemistry Seminar

Illuminating Developmental Biology with Photochemistry
James K. Chen, Professor and Chair, Chemical & Systems Biology, Stanford School of Medicine

Chemical probes can be valuable tools for studying the molecular mechanisms that underlie tissue formation or regeneration. In particular, synthetic reagents with unique photochemical properties can be used to perturb or observe these patterning processes. I will discuss the application of light-activatable antisense oligonucleotides to decipher the functions of Spadetail (Spt/Tbx16), a T-box transcription factor that is essential for paraxial mesoderm development in zebrafish. Our studies demonstrate that Spt regulates collinear hox gene activation in mesodermal progenitor cells, establishing the Hox codes that dictate anterior-posterior fates. I will also describe new methods for the optical imaging of photoluminescent lanthanide chelates.  These metal ion complexes have long-lived emissions that can be distinguished from biological autofluorescence, and we have developed a time-resolved microscopy system that enables ultrasensitive molecular imaging. We are now pursuing lanthanide-based technologies for visualizing the genetic programs that give rise to multicellular form.

Contact Victoria Brennan vicky@caltech.edu at 6151
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