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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

Chicken embryonic stem cells. Study of the differentiation between somatic and germinal lineages and between mesodermic and endodermic lineages

Lead Researcher:
Federica Bertocchini Bertocchini

Research Centre:
Instituto de Biomedicina y Biotecnología de Cantabria. Universidad de Cantabria. Santander.


Federica Bertocchini Bertocchini This project proposes the use of chicken embryonic stem cells (cESC) to study the mechanisms restricting their potentiality, particularly between the somatic and germinal cell lines, and between the mesodermal and endodermal lines. Finally, it is proposed to use the experimental model of recombinant ends to examine the morphogenetic capacity of mesenchymal stem cells (cMSC).

Firstly, the aim is to compare the pluripotency of cESC generated from blastoderms in stage X with cESC generated from previous states, given that the published results indicate that the cESC derived from stage X have lost their capacity to give rise to the germinal line. If the cESC generated from younger blastoderms keep this capacity, a comparative study will be undertaken of the transcriptome of both types of cESC, with the aim of identifying candidate genes to control the differentiation of the germinal line. The results will be validated using ISH and transfection experiments. To achieve these objectives, it is proposed to generate these cESC lines from transgenic chicken embryos which express GFP ubiquitously, which will make it possible to visualise them in vivo, which will be a highly useful tool for studies of this type.

The techniques which are being perfected include the culture of cESC, the culture of chicken embryos, microinjection manipulation techniques and immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization techniques. The collaborator Dr. Bertrand Pain has sent a line of cESCs, derived by himself, which will be used as a control to establish the conditions for the growth of the lines of transgenic chicken to be derived.

Federica Bertocchini Bertocchini


  • Open University London, UK/ DIBIT, Milan, Italy. PhD, 2000 (Cell Signaling).
  • Columbia University, New York, USA. Postdoctoral training. 1998-2000 (Developmental Biology).
  • University College London, London, UK. Postdoctoral training. 2001-2003 (Developmental Biology).
  • UCSF, USA. Postdoctoral training. 2004 (Development Biology).
  • University College London, London, UK. 2005-2009 (Development Biology).

Professional experience:

  • 1995-1998: Graduate student. Growth Factors and Signal Transduction Unit, DIBIT, S. Raphael's Hospital, Milan, Italy.
  • 1998-2000: Postdoctoral Fellow. Department of Genetics, Columbia University, New York, USA.
  • 2001-2003: Postdoctoral Fellow. Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, London, UK.
  • 2004: Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • 2005-2009: Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry. University of California San Francisco. San Francisco, USA. Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. University College London. London, UK.
  • 2010-to date: Ramon y Cajal Fellow, IBBTEC-CSIC, Santander, Spain.

Grants and Prizes:

  • DIBIT, S. Raphael Hospital Predoctoral Fellowship: 1995-1998
  • EMBO Short-Term Fellowship: 3/1996-6/1996
  • EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany
  • Telethon Foundation, Postdoctoral Fellowship: 1999-2001
  • Ramon y Cajal: 2010
  • Research Career Development Award
  • Ministry of Science and Innovation: 2010
  • National R&D+I Plan, Government of Spain 2010

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