Our laboratory is located in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We study how transcription factors introduce pattern into the embryo by controlling gene expression, with a particular emphasis on limb patterning. Different transcription factors are necessary for the development of specific segments of the limbs, and birth defects can result when the function of a transcription factor is missing. Because developmental patterning is similar in all mammals, we use limb development in the mouse as a model. We have found that the mouse transcription factor gene Shox2 is necessary to form the proximal segment of the limbs (the humerus in the arms and the femur in the legs). The middle image above shows this phenotype in a Shox2-mutant to the right of a wild-type hindlimb. We use the mouse Shox2 gene as a general system for studying morphogenesis, cellular differentiation and the control of gene expression during development. More recently, we have also begun studying the function of Shox2 during hindbrain development.

In a separate research program, we also study the regulation of a human gene called SHOX whose disruption causes the malformed limbs in people with Turner, Leri-Weill and Langer syndromes, which together affect approximately 1 in 3,000 people. We are trying to understand how disruptions of noncoding sequences near the SHOX gene cause limb abnormalities.

Wrong Cobb lab? If you are looking for a lab that studies DNA replication  and DNA repair proteins in yeast, you probably want the OTHER Cobb lab at the University of Calgary: Click here for the Jennifer Cobb lab.