We are focused on the in vivo role of the transcriptional regulatory protein known as CTIP2/BCL11B (we'll go with BCL11B from here on). Dorina Avram, a very talented postdoc in the laboratory from 1997–2002, discovered the protein and cloned the corresponding cDNA along with a super technician, Andy Fields. Others working in the Leid group subsequently defined the molecular and cellular basis for the activity of this transcription factor and demonstrated that the protein plays key roles in the development of several mammalian organ systems.
Most of our work has been accomplished using a mouse that is conditionally null for Bcl11b expression. This mouse, which has taken us all over the world, was created in collaboration with the group of Daniel Metzger and the teams in the ES cell and mouse facilities at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC) in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France. The creation of Bcl11b mice was made possible by the generous support and guidance of Pierre Chambon, founding director of IGBMC. We now work primarily on two projects, with the goals of which are: (1) determining the role of BCL11B in craniofacial development and craniosynostosis, and (2) defining the mechanisms by which post-translational modifications, such as phosphorylation, sumoylation, and ubiquitination, control the transcriptional regulatory activity of BCL11B in all cell types.