The enigma of human facial diversity
Another large-scale project we are working on is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms behind human facial diversity. We humans are the only animals that communicate identity via individual-specific variation of facial shape. In this respect, humans are unique. Other animals recognize each other rather based on the general appearance, smell, posture, behavior, coloration of fur and feathers, etc. Here we make an attempt to discover the genetic and molecular basis of such healthy facial shape variation. Overall, we are trying to understand what makes us different, unique, and beautiful. Because our faces develop in utero from neural crest stem cells, these multipotent progenitors become the center of our study.
We investigate a variety of the developmental aspects involved in facial shaping by cranial neural crest together with comparative genomics and transcriptomics in humans and animal models.
Videos on YouTube about our work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27AkqRCe7AM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj2CiAJlyCI Relevant papers: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29897331 “Signals from the brain and olfactory epithelium control shaping of the mammalian nasal capsule cartilage” eLife 2018.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28414273 “Oriented clonal cell dynamics enables accurate growth and shaping of vertebrate cartilage” eLife 2017.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26924989 “The Nervous System Orchestrates and Integrates Craniofacial Development: A Review” Front Physiol. 2016.