Ferretti Group: Lineage Choice and Mesodermal Competence

"Our aim is to understand how cell signaling pathways and transcription factor networks interact to guide mesodermal fate

The main goal of the Ferretti group is to identify and dissect the gene regulatory networks that spatially and temporally control mesoderm specification. Over the past years, much effort has been devoted to the characterization of extrinsic signaling controlling mesoderm differentiation; however, it remains unclear what the molecular mechanisms generating the different mesodermal types are. Knowing these mechanisms is critical for establishing efficient methods to direct the fate of pluripotent cells towards specific mesodermal progenitors, making the differentiation process more specific and robust. To achieve this goal the group focuses on the following specific questions.

  • How does the duration of the signal cues affect mesodermal fate?
  • How do genes conferring positional information guide mesodermal choices?
  • How does the primed state of the epiblast influence mesoderm differentiation?

Our long-term goal is to generate robust models for mesoderm differentiation that will help in conceiving innovative protocols for hESCs mesoderm differentiation.

Beating cardiomyocytes originating from cardiac differentiation of pluripotent mouse cells. (made by: PhD student Xiaogang Guo and Postdoc Luca Mariani)

Ongoing projects

  1. Establishing in vitro cellular systems to model mesoderm differentiation.
  2. Identification and characterization of the molecular mechanisms controlling cardiac progenitor specification and heart development.
  3. Decoding spatial and temporal gene regulatory networks guiding paraxial mesoderm specification and muscles formation.
  4. Deciphering the primed nature of the epiblast using biased and unbiased approaches.

Recent publications

 Selleri, L., Zappavigna, V., Ferretti, E. (2019). 'Building a perfect body': control of vertebrate organogenesis by PBX-dependent regulatory networks. Genes & Development, 33, 258-275, doi: 10.1101/gad.318774.118.

Filimonow, K., Saiz, N., Suwińska, A., Wyszomirski, T., Grabarek, J.B., Ferretti, E., Piliszek, A., Plusa, B., Maleszewski, M. (2019). No evidence of involvement of E-cadherin in cell fate specification or the segregation of Epi and PrE in mouse blastocysts. PLoS One, 2019 Feb 8;14: e0212109, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212109.

Losa, M.,  Risolino, M.,  Li, B., Hart, J., Quintana, L.,  Grishina, I., Yang, H., Choi, I.F., Lewicki, P., Khan, S., Aho, R., Feenstra, J., C.T., Brown, A.M.C., Ferretti, E., William, T., Selleri, L. (2018). Face morphogenesis is promoted by Pbx-dependent EMT via regulation of Snail1 during frontonasal prominence fusion. Development, 1;145, dev157628, doi: 10.1242/dev.157628.

Welsh, I.C., Hart, J., Brown, J.M., Hansen, K., Rocha Marques, M., Aho, R.J., Grishina, I., Hurtado, R., Herzlinger, D., Ferretti, E., Garcia‐Garcia M.J., Selleri, L. (2018). Pbx loss in cranial neural crest, unlike in epithelium, results in cleft palate only and a broader midfaceJournal of Anatomy, 233, 222-242, doi: 10.1111/joa.12821.

Dong, X., Landford, W.N., Hart, J., Risolino, M., Kaymakcalan, O., Jin, J., Toyoda, Y., Ferretti, E., Selleri L., Spector, J.A. (2017). Toward Microsurgical Correction of Cleft Lip Ex Utero through Restoration of Craniofacial Developmental Programs. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 144, 75-85, doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000003417.