Research Output per year
Boni Anatole Afouda, 52, 01 January 1968
Born and grew up in Benin and British since October 2006
● PhD (Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 2001)
● Diploma ~ Master (Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 1996)
● Bachelor (Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland, 1994)
● Diploma ~ Master (Biology, Benin National University, Republic of Benin, 1990)
● Co-Applicant in DAIWA ANGLO-JAPANESE FOUNDATION grant with Professor Stefan Hoppler, “Regulation of Wnt Signal Distance in Heart Development ”, August 2019 to December 2020.
● Named researcher on the British Heart Foundation Programme Grant RG/18/8/33673 “Building Heart Muscle: How Does Wnt Signalling Control Gene-Regulatory Networks to Coordinate Cardiomyocytes Differentiation?” to Professor Stefan Hoppler. £1,006,869; from 01st August 2018 to 31st July 2023.
● Co-Applicant Institute of Medical Sciences (University of Aberdeen) PhD studentship with Professor Stefan Hoppler, “What are the molecular mechanisms through which non-canonical Wnt signalling promotes heart muscle (cardiomyocytes) differentiation? October 2015 to September 2019.
● Co-applicant British Heart Foundation (BHF) project grant funding with Professor Hoppler as principal investigator, “Dissecting the gene regulatory network controlled by GATA transcription factors during cardiogenesis in Xenopus and mammalian ES cell model systems”, £252k, December 2013 to November 2016.
● British Heart Foundation (BHF), Institute of Medical Sciences (University of Aberdeen) and British Society of Developmental Biology (BSDB) Travel Awards (2009) to attend the Keystone Symposia on Cardiac Disease: Development, Regeneration, and Repair. March 15-20, 2009, Asheville -North Carolina- USA.
● Named post-doc on the British Heart Foundation Project Grant PG/07/043 “Regulation of vertebrate heart muscle differentiation: GATA transcription factors and Wnt signalling interact in a gene regulatory network” to Professor Stefan Hoppler, £142k, May 2007 to March 2010.
● British Society of Developmental Biology (BSDB) Travel Award (2006) to attend 11th international Xenopus meeting. September 12-16, 2006, Kazusa Akademia Center, Kisarazu-City, Japan.
● Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland PhD Studentship with consumables funding with Professor Hoppler as co-applicant, “Wnt6 signalling and GATA6 regulation in Xenopus heart muscle development”, £56k, October 2005 to October 2008. PhD student: Mrs Jennifer Martin.
● February 2011-November 2013: Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh.
● March 2004-January 2011: Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen.
● November 2000 to February 2004: Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Nottingham.
● 1996 – 2001: PhD student, Faculty of Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland.
● Afouda B A et al., (2020):Foxh1/nodal determines context-specific direct maternal Wnt/β-catenin target gene regulation in early development. Submitted to Cell Reports.
● Afouda B A et al., (2018): Genome-wide transcriptomics analysis identifies sox7andsox18as specifically regulated by gata4 in cardiomyogenesis. DevelopmentalBiology 434, 108-120.
●Afouda B A et al., (2018): Genome-wide transcriptomics analysis of genes regulated by GATA4, 5 and 6 during cardiomyogenesis in Xenopus laevis. Data in Brief 17, 559-563.
● Afouda B A, (2012): Stem-cell-like embryonic explant to study organ development. Methods Mol Biol 917, 515-523.
● Afouda B A and Hoppler S, (2011): Different requirements for GATA factors in cardiogenesis are mediated by non-canonical Wnt signaling. Developmental Dynamics 240 (3), 649-662.
● Martin J, Afouda B A and Hoppler S, (2010): Wnt/β-catenin signalling regulates cardiomyogenesis via GATA transcription factors. Journal of Anatomy 216 (1), 92-107.
● Hoppler S. and Afouda B A (2010): Cardiac MHCα expression in Xenopus. Development 137, 3-4 (Scientific Correspondence).
● Afouda B A and Hoppler S, (2009): Amphibian explants as experimental model system for studying heart development. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine 19 (7), 220-226.
● Afouda B A et al., (2008): GATA transcription factors integrate Wnt signaling during heart development. Development 135, 3185-3190.
● Afouda B A et al., (2005): GATA4, 5, and 6 mediate TGF beta maintenance of endodermal gene expression in Xenopus embryos. Development 132, 763-774.
● Reynaud-Deonauth S, Zhang H, Afouda B et al., (2002): Notch is involved in the regulation of Id3 gene transcription during Xenopus embryogenesis. Differentiation 69, 198-208.
● Afouda B A et al., (1999): Localized XId3 mRNA activation in Xenopus embryos by cytoplasmic polyadenylation. Mechanisms of Development 88, 15-31.
My data has been prominently cited in a book entitled ‘’The Regulatory Genome- Gene Regulatory Networks In Development and Evolution-’’ from Eric H Davidson published in May 2006 by Elsevier (http://www.elsevier.com). My data and a figure of mine have also been used in this book.
● Afouda B A and Hoppler S, (2014): Different requirements for GATA factors in cardiogenesis are mediated by non-canonical Wnt signaling. 15th International Xenopus meeting. August 24 – 28, 2014, Pacific Grove - California - USA
● Afouda B A et al., (2009): GATA transcription factors integrate Wnt signaling during heart development. Mechanisms of Development 126, S195-S238.
● Afouda B A et al., (2009): GATA transcription factors integrate Wnt signalling during heart development. Keystone Symposia; Cardiac Disease: Development, Regeneration, and Repair. March 15-20, 2009, Asheville -North Carolina - USA.
Selected Oral presentations
● Scottish stem cell network meeting, June 19th 2008- University of Edinburgh (UK): Talk title: Using stem-cell-like Xenopus embryonic explants to study Wnt signalling function in cardiogenesis.
● British Xenopus meeting, April 5th 2007, University of Portsmouth (UK): Talk title: Wnt signalling and GATA transcription factors regulate cardiogenesis.
I am interested in the process of how the heart is formed during vertebrate embryogenesis. In particular, my main focus is on the formation of heart muscle cells (cardiomyocyte) during early cardiogenesis. Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the first year of life and recent discoveries have identified GATA family of transcription factors and Wnt signalling molecules as key conserved regulators involved in early cardiogenesis. Of the six vertebrate members of the GATA factors three (GATA4, 5 and 6) are expressed in the heart in partially overlapping patterns to carry out partially redundant functions. The importance of these factors in heart formation has been highlighted in recent studies. Mutations in the Gata4 gene cause human congenital cardiomyopathies, including valve and septal defects and loss of both Gata4 and Gata6 in mice leads to acardia, suggesting that genetic interactions between these factors are essential for the onset and/or maintenance of cardiogenesis. In addition it has been shown that lack of Gata5 in mice leads to bicuspid aortic valve formation. The importance of these factors during heart formation is further demonstarted in studies that shown that compound Gata4/Gata5 and Gata5/Gata6 mutants die embryonically or perinatally due to severe CHD.
I use the frog Xenopus as model organism to examine the fundamental question about what functional roles individual GATA factors play during cardiogenesis. Because these factors function in other embryonic tissues I have established a powerful and reliable experimental cardiogenic assay with Xenopus explants, which allows investigating the role of these factors during early heart formation without interfering with other developmental processes.
I have uncovered functionally distinct roles for the different GATA factors which differ in dependency on Wnt signalling pathways: in constrast to GATA4 and 6 (which regulate both early and late cardiogenesis), GATA5 function (which is only required at later stages) is not mediated by the so called non-canonical Wnt pathway. These findings agree with the mouse data in that there is some redundancy but also in that GATA4 is one of the major player at the top of hierarchy of the cardiac transcriptional network.
To investigate the gene regulatory network that underlies the specific functions of different GATA factors I have taken advantage of advanced sequencing technology to perform genome-wide analysis of the gene regulatory network regulated by speicific GATA factors during heart formation in Xenopus. Since the fundamental mechanims involved in heart formation are conserved, I have validated my data in mammalian system using mouse Embryonic Stem (mES) cell. Validation in the mammalian system of data obtained from Xenopus model enhanced our understanding of molecular mechanisms that are involved in vertebrate heart development. Current investigations combine Xenopus and human Embyonic Stem Cell (hESC) models to further our understanding on how Wnt signalling controls genome-wide gene expression during critical stages of cardiomyocyte differentiation. Validation of functions of identified key Wnt-target genes (among which GATA factors should be) will be performed using CRISP/R-mediated genome editing method.
Genome-wide transcriptomics analysis identifies sox7 and sox18 as specifically regulated by gata4 in cardiomyogenesisAfouda, B. A., Lynch, A. T., De Paiva Alves, E. & Hoppler, S., 1 Feb 2018, In : Developmental Biology. 434, 1, p. 108-120 13 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Genome-wide transcriptomics analysis of genes regulated by GATA4, 5 and 6 during cardiomyogenesis in Xenopus laevisAfouda, B. A., Lynch, A. T., De Paiva Alves, E. & Hoppler, S., Apr 2018, In : Data in brief. 17, p. 559-563 5 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article