Research interests: My work is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying left-right identities in the dorsal diencephalon of zebrafish.
The zebrafish dorsal diencephalon is composed of the medially positioned pineal organ, the left-sided parapineal nucleus and the bilateral habenulae. Moreover, the habenular nuclei are comprised of multiple subnuclei and display conspicuous left-right asymmetries in cytoarchitecture, neurotransmitter expression and connectivity.
Establishment of asymmetries in the dorsal diencephalon is thought to occur concordantly and in a stepwise mechanism not fully understood. It is known that parapineal migration is crucial to the development of left habenula (LHb) identity but the molecular and cellular nature of parapineal-LHb progenitors communication remains unknown.
In order to understand how left and right identities arise and are maintained within habenular nuclei, a forward genetic screen was performed to identify phenotypes in which a parapineal is present but the elaboration of habenular asymmetry is disturbed. I am currently studying two novel mutants - rorschach and narcissus - in which the body asymmetry is normal but the epithalamus displays left-sided isomerism. These novel asymmetry mutants can be used as a valuable tool to understand the decoupling of parapineal migration and habenular asymmetry and to further our understanding of the development pathway of the habenulae nuclei.
CV / History:
2010 - present: Post Doctoral Research Associate at University College London (London, United Kingdom) in the research group of Professor Steve Wilson.
2005 - 2010: PhD student at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research (Utrecht, The Netherlands), in the research group of Professor Hans Clevers. The main focus of my research project was to study the mechanisms of organogenesis and carcinogenesis in endoderm-derived tissues using zebrafish as a study model.
2003 - 2004: Diploma student at the research group of Professor Domingos Henrique, Institute of Molecular Medicine (Lisbon, Portugal). Diploma Thesis on Cell polarity: characterization of polarity genes in ectoderm-derived tissues in Gallus gallus embryos.
2002 - 2003: Trainee at the Institute of Neurobiology, Universiteit van Amsterdam (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Integrated in the Erasmus Exchange Programme.
1997 - 2004: Undergraduate studies in Microbiology and Genetics, Faculdade de Ciencias, Universidade de Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal).
Muncan V, Faro A, Haramis AP, Hurlstone AF, Wienholds E, van Es J, Korving J, Begthel H, Zivkovic D, Clevers H (2007)
T-cell factor 4 (Tcf7l2) maintains proliferative compartments in zebrafish intestine.