Dr Tom Burdon

The Roslin Institute

Research Interests

Our Lab’s research interests centre on the regulation of growth and differentiation of pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells. The ability to expand these remarkable cells indefinitely in culture and then differentiate them into somatic and germ cell lineages provides unique opportunities to study mammalian biology and promises to revolutionise drug discovery and regenerative medicine. Recent “paradigm shifting” work from Professor Shinya Yamanaka’s laboratory on inducing pluripotency in somatic cells now makes it now feasible to consider generating genotype-specific pluripotent cell lines without relying on embryonic source tissue. Nevertheless, despite these spectacular advances, efficient expansion of large numbers of karyotypically and phenotypically normal embryonic stem cells is not trivial: there is a pressing need to better understand how to stably propagate these cells in culture and predictably and quantitatively control their differentiation.

The main area of investigation in the lab is how intracellular signals regulate ES cell growth and differentiation. This work focuses principally on the activity of the MAPK and PI3K pathways and involves: i) examining the role of established ES cell regulators (i.e. adaptor protein Grb2), ii) characterising the function of a novel ES cell specific regulator in mouse ES cells (a Grb2-binding protein 1 variant) and iii) investigating signaling cross-talk between pathways. We also aim to further define the core regulatory pathways regulating pluripotency in mammals by comparing cells from different species. To this end, the Roslin Institute has initiated a programme to derive new embryonic cell lines from rats and farm animals.

Lineage specific fate determination in the early embryo or ES cells requires the suppression of both pluripotency and alternative differentiated fates. Recent studies suggest that this can be mediated at the post-translational level by micro RNAs. Together with Dr Michael Clinton at the Roslin Institute we have begun examining the role miRNAs play in regulating early embryonic differentiation. 

Selected Publications

  • Stephen Meek, Jun Wei, Linda Sutherland, Benedikt Nilges, Mia Buehr, Simon R Tomlinson, Alison J Thomson, Tom Burdon. 2013. Tuning of beta-catenin Activity is Required to Stabilise Self-renewal of Rat Embryonic Stem Cells. Stem Cells Vol: 31 Pages: 2104-2115. More»
  • Alison J Thomson, Hadrien Pierart, Stephen Meek, Alexandra Bogerman, Linda Sutherland, Helen Murray, Edward Mountjoy, Alison Downing, Richard Talbot, Chiara Sartori, C Bruce A Whitelaw, Tom C Freeman, Alan L Archibald, Tom Burdon. 2012. Reprogramming Pig Fetal Fibroblasts Reveals a Functional LIF Signaling Pathway. Cellular Reprogramming Vol: 14 Pages: 112-122. More»
  • Magnus D Lynch, Andrew Smith, Marco De Gobbi, Maria Flenley, Jim R Hughes, Douglas Vernimmen, Helena Ayyub, Jacqueline A Sharpe, Jacqueline A Sloane-Stanley, Linda Sutherland, Stephen Meek, Tom Burdon, Richard J Gibbons, David Garrick, Douglas R Higgs. 2012. An interspecies analysis reveals a key role for unmethylated CpG dinucleotides in vertebrate Polycomb complex recruitment. EMBO Journal Vol: 31 Pages: 317-329. More»
  • Michael J Devine, Mina Ryten, Petr Vodicka, Alison J Thomson, Tom Burdon, Henry Houlden, Fatima Cavaleri, Masumi Nagano, Nicola J Drummond, Jan-Willem Taanman, Anthony H Schapira, Katrina Gwinn, John Hardy, Patrick A Lewis, Tilo Kunath. 2011. Parkinson's disease induced pluripotent stem cells with triplication of the α-synuclein locus. Nature Communications Vol: 2. More»
  • Stephen Meek, Mia Buehr, Linda Sutherland, Alison Thomson, John J. Mullins, Andrew Smith, Tom Burdon. 2010. Efficient Gene Targeting by Homologous Recombination in Rat Embryonic Stem Cells. PLoS One Vol: 5 Pages: -. More»