Parker Antin, PhD is focused on understanding the molecular regulation of early developmental processes in vertebrate embryos. By primarily using the chicken embryo as a model organism, he approaches research questions from the dual perspective of how individual molecules function and how their functions can be integrated into network models. One present research emphasis is concerned with understanding epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) during avian gastrulation. Microarray studies have shown that more than 1800 genes are upregulated in the epiblast adjacent to the primitive streak. Many of these genes are regulated by FGF signaling, including members of several other signaling pathways and at least thirty differentially expressed transcription factors. Fgf signaling therefore appears to be a key upstream regulator of EMT. Studies are investigating the intracellular signaling pathways downstream of Fgf receptor activation, including the MAPK, PI3K and AKT pathways. The MAPK pathway in particular directly regulates downstream gene transcription via activation of several transcription factors, including members of the Ets and T Box families. Studies are investigating downstream transcriptional targets of these factors.
Another long standing research interest in the Antin lab is the mechanisms controlling early stages of cardiac myogenesis, from the emergence of premyocardial cells during gastrulation to formation of the primitive heart tube. Bmp and Fgf signaling are well known activators of genes in the cardiogenic pathway, however relatively few direct transcriptional targets of these signaling pathways have been identified. By combining classical experimental embryological approaches with genome wide microarray analyses, we are working to generate a large-scale model of cardiac myogenesis.
The Antin lab also hosts the GEISHA in situ hybridization database and website. The GEISHA project (gallus expression in situ hybridization analysis) began in 1998 to investigate using high throughput whole mount in situ hybridization to identify novel, differentially expressed genes in chicken embryos. An initial expression screen of approximately 900 genes demonstrated feasibility of the approach, and also highlighted the need for a centralized repository of in situ hybridization expression data. Funding was eventually obtained for this purpose. The goals of the GEISHA project are to obtain whole mount in situ hybridization expression information for all differentially expressed genes in the chicken embryo between HH stages 1-25, to integrate expression data with the chicken genome browsers, and to offer this information through a user-friendly graphical user interface.
Dr. Antin is also a member of the Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program.