Endoderm development

Summary of the research ongoing in the Lickert laboratory

Our main focus is on organs that develop from the foregut, namely, lung, liver and pancreas.

Chronic lung, liver and pancreas disease are among the leading causes of death in the world. We are interested in how these endoderm-derived organs develop from the primitive gut tube and how signals pattern the early mouse embryo. Elucidating the developmental mechanisms that lead to progenitor cell differentiation and organ development will be beneficial in identifying targets of human disease and is fundamental for stem cell biology.

To understand the development of these organs, the progenitor cells have to be identified and characterized. Moreover, the signals and factors that trigger specification and differentiation of early lineages have to be understood.

Recently, we also became interested in the cell biology of the cilia as organelle, which regulates organ physiology, embryonic patterning, as well as cell signalling, proliferation and differentiation.

Zorn and Wells, 2009; Annu. Rev. Celll Dev. Biol.25:221-251

Specific aims are:

  •     Imaging endoderm development
  •     Identification of endodermal stem cells
  •     Signals & factors directing differentiation
  •     The role of cilia in signaling & patterning




Heiko Lickert is director of the  Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research and stem cell biologists of his group are working at the ISF

  • Visualization of pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cell division and differentiation in culture

Time lapse imaging of ES cells that are constitutively labelled with a membrane localized green fluorescent reporter protein and a histone2B red fluorescent protein. Histones are essential for DNA packaging and nicely label the metaphase chromosomes during cell division.