The development of the vertebrate eye requires precise positioning and reciprocal alignment of its components to achieve maximal visual performance. The anteriormost components - the lens and the cornea - derive from neighboring regions in the ectoderm that overlies the optic vesicle. As the lens placode invaginates inward to form the lens vesicle, the surrounding periplacodal cells migrate towards each other to close the lens aperture and form the outermost layer of the cornea. For proper eye development, lens placode invagination and periplacodal cell migration must coordinate, but the cellular mechanism through which it occurs is unknown. Our laboratory has data that shows that the periplacodal cells emit extensions that transport vesicles, suggesting that this could be a cell-cell communication mechanism that plays a role in the development of the anterior chamber of the eye. Thus, we propose here to join forces with the Srinivas laboratory at the University of Oxford to perform in-depth analysis of live images of these structures during lens placode invagination in the embryo. The Srinivas laboratory focuses on cell movement during early development of the mouse embryo and is equipped with the latest imaging technology and the expertise for post-capture image processing and analysis. Further, we would like to investigate if these cellular extensions also occur in mammals and will take advantage of their know-how to characterize the periplacodal cells in the mouse embryo.
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