Ahtiainen lab

Contact information

Laura Ahtiainen, PhD, Docent
Academy Research Fellow
Tel. +358 50 4484559
e-mail: Laura.Ahtiainen (at)
helsinki.fi

Developmental Biology Program
Institute of Biotechnology
P.O. Box 56, 00014 University of
Helsinki
Street address: Viikinkaari 9,
Biocenter

Ahtiainen lab

We are interested in cell biological events in embryonic development of ectodermal organ systems the tooth, hair and salivary gland. We use advanced tissue imaging techniques of fluorescent mouse models to understand development on a single cell level in living tissue. Our recent research characterizes the cellular events in the forming hair placode and the specialized signaling centers regulating the incisor tooth morphogenesis.

Studies in humans and in mouse models have already elucidated the details of genetic regulation of signaling pathways in normal development and in hereditary diseases of ectodermal organs but the cellular mechanisms have remained elusive. Only recently, light microscopy imaging techniques have advanced enough to enable tracking the single cell fate in live tissue, which is crucial in understanding the underlying cell biological processes in epithelial morphogenesis. Our research focuses on the cellular events between the genetic signaling networks and phenotypes in transgenic mouse models. We combine the conventional developmental biology approaches with the forefront of functional cell biology imaging techniques. Applying cell biological approaches on whole tissues will help in understanding how changes in cell polarity, migration and proliferation contribute to morphogenesis in whole live organisms. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms guiding normal development provides the basis for uncovering disease mechanisms in congenital defects. Results of this study may lead to novel therapeutic possibilities, particularly in the field of regenerative therapies and have implications for cancer.