Andrew Lawton, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Andrew Lawton, PhD

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Education and Training

2013- Present

Research Fellow, SKI Developmental Biology Program, Joyner Lab


Ph.D., Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University


M.S., Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University

Research Interests

I am interested in how cell behaviors give rise to three dimensional tissue formation. Structural malformations are present in brain diseases that present phenotypes including differential mental ability, learning, ataxia, or seizures. The cerebellum (Cb) has a complex 3-D morphology. During development each folium arrives at a specific shape and size. Foliation is crucial to Cb function, as the correct afferent circuitry is dependent on the proper partitioning of granule neuron progenitors (GNPs) into folia. How the growth of the Cb is fine tuned such that each folium is reaches its final correct morphology is not know.

Each folium is compartmentalized by the base of the intervening fissures. These regions, known as anchoring centers, partition the external granule layer, as GNPs do not cross anchoring centers. This suggests that differential behaviors between folia, including polarized movement and oriented cell division may play important roles in fine tuning growth. In fact, clonal analysis has shown that longer folia show a greater polarization of GNP dispersion.

My project aims to uncover the differential GNP behaviors that shape the folia using slice culture, time-lapse imaging and quantitative analysis. As the engrailed homeobox transcription factors (EN1/2) regulate foliation during Cb development I am analyzing the role of EN1/2 in regulating the dynamic GNP behaviors. Understanding how the Cb is divided into folia and how EN1/2 regulate this process is not just a fascinating developmental question, but is crucial for understanding Cb function and many debilitating cerebellar diseases.


Lawton A.K., Nandi A., Stulberg M.J., Dray N., Sneddon M.W., Pontius W., Emonet T., Holley S.A.(2013) Regulated tissue fluidity steers zebrafish body elongation. Development 140 (3):573-582. PMID 23293289

Dray, N., Lawton A, Nandi A, Jülich D, Emonet T and Holley SA.. Cell-Fibronectin interactions propel vertebrate trunk elongation via tissue mechanics. Curr Biol., 23 (2013), pp.1335-1341 PMID 23810535

Jülich, D., Cobb, G., Melo, A., McMillen, P., Lawton, A.K., Mochrie, S., Rhoades, E., Holley, S.A. (2015) Cross-scale Integrin regulation organizes ECM and tissue topology. Dev Cell., 34(1):33-44. PMID 26096733.