UCL Division of Biosciences


Prof Leslie Dale

Professor of Developmental Biology

Cell & Developmental Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Apr 1993

Research summary

We are interested in how the embryo of the frog Xenopus laevis develops from a fertilized egg into a swimming tadpole. Xenopus embryos have many advantages as a model for studying cell signalling during development: Large numbers of synchronously developing embryos are easily obtained and their large size and ease of culture means that they are amenable to micromanipulation and single cell injection. Workable transgenic protocols have been developed and there has been some success in inhibiting gene function with antisense technologies. As a consequence, studies on Xenopus embryos have made many important contributions to our understanding of vertebrate development.

Much of our research has involved studies on the roles of Tolloid metalloproteases in Xenopus development and especialy their role in regulating BMP signalling. They achieve this by cleaving the BMP inhibitory binding protein Chordin, releasing fragments with reduced affinity for BMPs. As a consequence they increase BMP signalling activity. In addition, we have studied a number of GPCRs that are expressed in Xenopus gastrulae, concentrating on receptors belonging to the P2Y subclass. One of these, P2Y5, is a receptor for the bioactive lipid LPA and we have compelling evidence that it is required for forebrain development. Finally, we have been studying Xenopus members of the ADP-ribosyl cyclase family and have evidence that one of these, CD38, is required for muscle differentiation.

Teaching summary

Teaching Lead Department of Cell & Developmental Biology

Degree program tutor, Human Sciences BSc

First year tutor, Human Sciences BSc

Admissions tutor, Human Sciences BSc

Module organizer ANAT1003, Introduction to Anatomy and Developmental Biology

Organizer of RDG module, year 2 MBBS

Chair of Anatomy Exam Board


University of Edinburgh
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1983
University of Sussex
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1977