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Sampath Lab


Research Summary

Research Profile

The Sampath laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms that specify the embryonic axes, and in elucidating the molecular functions of factors that participate in these processes. In particular, we are investigating the roles and regulation of maternally deposited RNA and protein factors in early embryonic development, using the zebrafish as a model system. We use a combination of live imaging, biochemistry, genetics, genomic, and embryological approaches (see Lim et al., Development 2012; Tran et al., Development 2012, and Kumari et al., eLife, 2013; Lim et al., Genome Biology, 2013). Our current research focuses on three major themes: 1) Functions and regulation of non-coding maternal nodal RNA 2) Microtubule based transport and localization of maternal RNAs with functions in embryonic axis determination, and 3) Regulation of nodal signaling.


Karuna Sampath is an Associate Professor of Biomedicine, University of Warwick. Following her PhD at Indiana State University, USA with Gary Stuart, she did brief post-doctoral stints with Christopher Wright at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA (1995-1996), and Vladimir Korzh at the Institute of Molecular Agrobiology, Singapore (1997-1998). She started her independent programme as a fellow at the Institute of Molecular Agrobiology, and joined Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory as a group leader in 2002. She relocated her research programme to the University of Warwick in October 2013.


The lab is funded by Warwick Medical School and BBSRC.

Research Projects

Projects for BSc and post-graduate students are available. Please contact Karuna Sampath (email: K dot Sampath at warwick dot ac dot uk) for details.

Selected Publications

Y Wang, X Wang, T Wohland, and Sampath, K. Extracellular interactions and ligand degradation shape the Nodal morphogen gradient. eLife 5. Pii: e113879. Doi: 10.7554/eLife.13879 (2016).

Vrljicak P, Tao S, Quach HN, Varshney G, Lafave M, Burgess SM, and Sampath K. Genome-wide analysis of transposon and retroviral integrations reveals preferential integrations in regions of DNA flexibility. G3: Genes Genomes Genetics doi:10.1534/g3.115.026849 (2016).

K Sampath and A Ephrussi. cncRNAs: bifunctional RNAs with both coding and non-coding roles in development. Development 143, 1234-1241 doi:10.1242/dev.133298 (2016).

K Sampath and EJ Robertson. Keeping a Lid on Nodal: Transcriptional and Translational Repression of Nodal Signaling. Open Biology DOI: 10.1098/rsob.150200 (2016).

Quach HN, Tao S, Vrljicak P, Joshi A, Ruan H, Sukumaran R, Varshney GK, LaFave MC, Screen Team TD, Burgess SM, Winkler C, Emelyanov A, Parinov S, Sampath K. (2015) A Multifunctional Mutagenesis System for Analysis of Gene Function in Zebrafish. G3: Genes Genomes Genetics. doi: 10.1534/g3.114.015842

Young, T., Poobalan, Y., Tan, E.K., Tao, S., Ong, S., Wehner, P., Schwenty-Lara, J., Lim, C.Y., Sadasivam, A., Lovatt, M., Wang, S.T., Ali, Y., Borchers, A., Sampath, K., Dunn, N. R. (2014) The PDZ domain protein Mcc is a novel effector of non-canonical Wnt signaling during convergence and extension in zebrafish. Development 141:e1801 Link

Kumari, P., Gilligan, P.C., Lim, S., Winkler, S., Philp, R. and Sampath, K. (2013) An Essential Role for Maternal Control of Nodal Signaling. eLife 2:00683; Pubmed

Lim, S., Kumari, P., Gilligan, P., Ngoc, H., Mathavan, S. and Sampath, K. (2012) Dorsal activity of maternal squint is mediated by a non-coding function of the RNA. Development 139: 2903-2915, Pubmed

Tran, L.D., Hino, H., Quach, H., Lim, S., Shindo, A., Mimori-Kiyosue, Y., Mione, M., Ueno, N., Winkler, C., Hibi, M. and Sampath, K. (2012) Dynamic Microtubules at the Vegetal Cortex Predict the Embryonic Axis in Zebrafish. Development 139: 3644-3652 Pubmed

Gilligan, P., Kumari, P., Lim, S., Cheong, A., Chang, A. and Sampath, K.(2011) Conservation defines functional motifs in the squint/nodal-related 1 RNA Dorsal Localization Element. Nucleic Acids Research 39: 3340-3349 Pubmed

Tian, J., Andree, B., Jones, C.M., and Sampath, K. (2008) The pro-domain of the zebrafish Nodal-related protein Cyclops regulates its signalling activities. Development 135: 2649-2658 Pubmed

Gore, A., Maegawa, S., Cheong, A., Gilligan, P., Weinberg, E., and Sampath, K. (2005) The zebrafish dorsal axis is apparent by the four-cell stage. Nature 438: 1030-1035 Pubmed


Agnieszka Nagorska - Research Assistant

Lavanya Sivashanmugam - Research Assistant

Andreas Zaucker - Post-Doc

Amit Gautam - Post-Doc

Rachel Baker - MSc Student

Members and Projects