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Octavian Voiculescu PhD

Our lab aims at understanding how stem zones build the main embryonic axis and the forces that shape the higher vertebrate embryos.
Octavian Voiculescu, PhD

Wellcome Trust RCDF

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333758, Fax: +44 (0) 1223 333840

Research Interests

Many embryos and regenerating tissues grow by the action of stem zones; little is known about the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these processes. In amniote embryos, the first such growth zone (axial stem zone) is established in the mature Organizer (Video 1): a few cells residing in this region generate the entire mesendoderm of the main body axis. We have just identified genes specifically expressed in the axial stem zone (Fig. 1), established the modes of cell divisions of the axial stem zone and the lineage relationships with the surrounding zones (Fig. 2) and now aim at deciphering the molecular control of these cell behaviours.

The axial stem zone and the adjoining stem zones elongating the neural plate act in the context of global, embryo-wide morphogenetic forces. We have already elucidated the cellular mechanisms driving the gastrulation movements, and now work on the ones shaping the future nervous system.

Current team members

Dr Timothy Wood
Dr Mansoor Raza
Ismahan Suleiman (PhD student)

Key Publications

Voiculescu O, Bodenstein L, Lau IJ, Stern CD (2014), Local cell interactions and self-amplifying individual cell ingression drive amniote gastrulation, eLife, 3:e01817

Voiculescu O, Stern CD, (2012), Assembly of Imaging Chambers and High-Resolution Imaging of Early Chick Embryos, Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2012: 2012

Voiculescu O, Stern CD, (2011), High-Resolution, multiphoton time-lapse imaging of early chick embryos, in Imaging in Developmental Biology: A Laboratory Manual (J Sharpe, R Wong, R Yuste (eds.), Ch. 40, pp. 581-9, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Voiculescu O, Papanayotou C, Stern CD, (2008), Spatially- and temporally-controlled electroporation of early chick embryos for gain- and loss-of-function experiments, Nature Protocols, 3: 419-26

Voiculescu O, Bertocchini F, Wolpert L, Keller RE, Stern CD, (2007), The amniote primitive streak is defined by epithelial cell intercalation before gastrulation, Nature, 449: 1049-52

Maro GS, Vermeren M, Voiculescu O, Melton L, Cohen J, Charnay P, Topilko P, (2004), Neural crest boundary cap cells constitute a source of neuronal and glial cells of the PNS, Nat Neurosci, 7: 930-8

Chatonnet F, del Toro ED, Voiculescu O, Charnay P, Champagnat J, (2002), Different respiratory control systems are affected in homozygous and heterozygous kreisler mutant mice, Eur J Neurosci, 15: 684-92

Voiculescu O, Taillebourg, E, Pujades C, Kress C, Buart S, Charnay P, Schneider-Maunoury S, (2001), Hindbrain patterning: Krox-20 couples segmentation and specification of regional identity, Development, 128: 4967-78

Gambardella L, Schneider-Maunoury S, Voiculescu O, Charnay P, Barrandon Y, (2000), Pattern of expression of the transcription factor Krox-20 in mouse hair follicle, Mech Dev, 96: 215-8

Voiculescu O, Charnay P, Schneider-Maunoury S, (2000), Expression pattern of a Krox-20/Cre knock-in allele in the developing hindbrain, bones, and peripheral nervous system, Genesis, 26: 123-6

Garratt AN, Voiculescu O, Topilko P, Charnay P, Birchmeier C, (2000), A dual role of erbB2 in myelination and in expansion of the Schwann cell precursor pool, J Cell Biol, 148: 1035-46

Mathis L, Sieur J, Voiculescu O, Charnay P, Nicolas JF, (1999), Successive patterns of clonal cell dispersion in relation to neuromeric subdivision in the mouse neuroepithelium, Development, 126: 4095-106

Above: Genes specifically and permanently activated in the axial stem zone.

Above: Direct imaging reveals the cell movements and modes of cell division in the stem zones (axial and neural) elongating the axis.


Above: The anterior streak becomes a stem zone generating the entire axial mesendoderm.