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  current news   Press   selected story    
     
  15 April 2010  
 

IMCB Congratulates Recent Award Winners: Alice Tay and Ashish Maurya

 
 



(To view more about each winner's abstract, please click on his/her name in the image above)

IMCB Congratulates Alice Tay on receiving the STAR EMPLOYEE AWARD

Abstract
The STAR Employee Award is to reward staff who “best embodies A*STAR’s corporate values: Action, Speed, Teamwork, Agility, Resolve and Integrity (“A*STAR and I”). This individual, who must have worked in A*STAR for at least 2 years, should be an outstanding contributor, a positive influence on the organization, and a role model for all.”

Dr. Alice Tay started as a PhD student and later became Head of the DNA Sequencing Facility, a position she has held for several years. Alice ensures that IMCB and BSF have a world-class sequencing facility, running a service that provides fast and accurate readouts. At the same time, she is also an active genomics researcher, playing an integral role in the research efforts of the Comparative Genomics Group led by Profs Venkatesh and Brenner.

Alice is in charge of the IMCB Student Outreach programme. The mission of Student Outreach is to educate and inspire the young people of Singapore. The weekly 3-day programme is very well received, with students gaining firsthand experience in bench work. Alice also represents IMCB in Outreach activities at the Singapore Science Centre, NUS and A*GA.

Alice lectures in two of the IMCB's postgraduate courses – Genomics and the Nucleic Acid Course. She has helped to organize workshops for postgraduate students taking the degree of Master in Biotech Law at NUS. In the past, she organized Life Science courses for judges and lawyers.

Alice is an honest, reliable and trustworthy member of IMCB and A*STAR. Her loyalty to IMCB and A*STAR is evident, and she received a 20-year Long Service Award in 2008. She continues to be passionate about research, education and mentoring. Her infectious enthusiasm and ability to both lead and work in a team crosses organisational boundaries. Alice is well-deserving of the STAR Employee Award.

For more information on Alice Tay's Lab, please click here.

 
     
 


IMCB congratulates Ashish Maurya on receiving the EMBO best poster prize

IMCB congratulates Ashish Maurya on receiving the best poster prize at the EMBO workshop titled "HEDGEHOG SIGNALING: From developmental biology to anti-cancer drugs" in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, France. Ashish is currently a Ph.D. student in Prof. Philip Ingham’s laboratory.

Shh antagonizes Smad activity to specify cell fates in the teleost myotome "HEDGEHOG SIGNALING: Ashish K Maurya1,2, Marcel Souren1,3, Joachim Wittbrodt3 & Philip W Ingham1,2

1 - Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore;
2 - Dept of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore;
3 - EMBL Heidelberg

Abstract
The zebrafish myotome consists of four identifiable muscle cell types, three of which require Hedgehog (Hh) signaling activity for their specification.

We are trying to understand how the same Hh signal can elicit distinct cellular identities using the myotome as a paradigm. We have focussed on the two cell types that require the highest levels of Hh for their specification, Muscle Pioneers (MPs) and Medial Fast Fibers (MFFs). Both of these muscle cell types express engrailed genes in response to Hh signaling. In order to understand the specification of these cell types, we have analysed the transcriptional control of the engrailed genes. We started by identifying a minimal cis-regulatory element from the engrailed2a (en2a) locus that can drive reporter gene expression in the MPs and MFFs. We next took a cell culture based approach to identify potential trans-acting factors regulating this element and identified Smad5 - a mediator of BMP signaling - as a strong repressor of this element. We next visualized activated Smads (using a specific antibody phospho-Smad1/5/8) in the zebrafish myotome and found that many myoblasts accumulate pSmads in their nuclei, whereas Engrailed positive fibers are devoid of such accumulation, consistent with Smads acting as repressors of engrailed. We next altered cell fates in the myotome by manipulating levels of Hh signaling and assayed for the distribution of activated Smads. As previously described, elevated Hh signaling resulted in an increase in the number of MP/MFFs, and we found a concomitant depletion of activated Smads from these ectopic engrailed positive cells. We next manipulated BMP signaling cell autonomously in the myotome using a constitutively active BMP receptor or by inhibitory Smads, Smad6 and 7. Activating BMP signaling led to a suppression of MP/MFF fate, whereas removal of activated Smads resulted in ectopic MP/MFF fate within the myotome. These experiments suggest that Hh specifies MP/MFF cell fate by antagonizing BMP signaling.

This antagonistic interaction parallels the interplay between BMP and Hh activity underlying cell fate specifciation in the vertebrate neural tube. Based on previously reported interaction between Smads and repressor forms of Glis (trans-factors that mediate Hh signals) we suggest a model whereby activated Smads are stabilized and restrained in the nucleus by repressive forms of Glis, resulting in suppression of the MP/MFF fate.

 
 


 
 

Figure Legend: A subset of slow fibers that receive high levels of sonic hedgehog (medially located) do not accumulate active Smads (mediators of BMP signals) in their nuclei.
14 somite stage zebrafish embryonic myotome, lateral view.

For more information on Philip Ingham's Lab, please click here.