Martin Ignacio Garcia-Castro

Research Scientist in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology


Research Summary

Neural crest stem cells are a migratory cell population that generates many derivatives, including peripheral neurons and glia, endocrine cells, heart valves, melanocytes, and most of the craniofacial bone and cartilage. Therefore, neural crest cells are at the root of vertebrate development and are involved in health complications, ranging from brain tumors to craniofacial and cardiac malformations. Our goal is to understand the principles that govern the formation and regulate the differentiation potential of neural crest stem cells. We focus on “early events” responsible for their formation, and the transcription factors, partners, regulators, and target molecules, dictating neural crest stem cell development. We combine traditional and up-to-date methodologies to discover, monitor, and modify gene expression during neural crest development in vivo and in vitro. We use chick, mouse and rabbit embryos along with hESC-derived hNC to understand and investigate human neural crest stem cell biology.


Selected Publications

  • Stuhlmiller, T., García–Castro, M.I. (2012) "FGF/MAPK signaling is required in the gastrula epiblast for avian neural crest induction" Development 139, 289–300, recently Selected and recommended by Faculty of a Thousand.
  • Betters, E., Liu, Y., Kjaeldgaard, A., Sundström, E., and García–Castro, M. I. (2010) "Analysis of early human neural crest development" Developmental Biology 344 (2): 578–592
  • Murdoch, B., DelConte, C., and García–Castro, M. I. (2010) "Embryonic Pax7–expressing progenitors contribute multiple cell types to the postnatal olfactory epithelium" J. Neuroscience 30: 9523-9532
  • Basch, M., Bronner-Fraser, M., and García-Castro, M.I. (2006). Specification of the neural crest occurs during gastrulation and requires Pax7. Nature 441:218-222. Featured by D. McGowan in Research Highlights for the journal Nature Reviews/ Neuroscience 7:1 and Selected by three reviewers for Faculty of a 1000 as a must read.

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