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Prof. Dr. Rolf Zeller


Prof. Rolf Zeller
Developmental Genetics
Department Biomedicine
Mattenstrasse 28
CH-4058 Basel / Switzerland


Phone +41 61 61 695 30 33/31

Rolf Zeller is Full-Professor in Anatomy and Embryology at the DBM Centre for Biomedicine, University of Basel. The main research topics of his group include genetic and systematic analysis of the signal-antagonist interactions and auto-regulatory feedback loops that control vertebrate organogenesis. In particular, mouse molecular genetics is used to analyse the BMP signal-antagonist interactions that control proliferation and survival of stem-cell progenitors and the specification of particular cell fates during progression of limb and kidney organogenesis (patterning and initiation of differentiation). More recently, an analysis of the potential roles of aberrant BMP and SHH signal-antagonist interactions in tumour initiation and progression has been initiated with particular emphasis on tumour-stroma cell interactions.

For further details and publications see:

Recent publications related to stem cells:

  • Galli A, Robay D, Osterwalder M, Bao X, Bénazet JD, Tariq M, Paro R, Mackem S. and Zeller R. (2010). Distinct roles of Hand2 in initiating polarity and posterior Shh expression during the onset of mouse limb bud development. PLoS Genet. 6:e1000901.
  • Osterwalder M, Galli A, Rosen B, Skarnes WC, Zeller R, Lopez-Rios J. (2010). Dual RMCE for efficient re-engineering of mouse mutant alleles. Nature Methods 7:893-5.
  • Lopez-Rios J, Speziale D, Robay D, Scotti M, Osterwalder M, Nusspaumer G, Galli A, Holländer GA, Kmita M, Zeller R. (2012). GLI3 constrains digit number by controlling both progenitor proliferation and BMP-dependent exit to chondrogenesis. Dev Cell 22:837-48.
  • Bénazet JD, Pignatti E, Nugent A, Unal E, Laurent F, Zeller R. (2012). Smad4 is required to induce digit ray primordia and to initiate the aggregation and differentiation of chondrogenic progenitors in mouse limb buds. Development 139:4250-60.
  • Zuniga A, Laurent F, Lopez-Rios J, Klasen C, Matt N, Zeller R. (2012). Conserved cis-regulatory regions in a large genomic landscape control SHH and BMP-regulated Gremlin1 expression in mouse limb buds. BMC Dev Biol. 12:23.
  • Benazet JD, Zeller R. (2013). Dual requirement of ectodermal Smad4 during AER formation and termination of feedback signaling in mouse limb buds. Genesis 51:660-6.
  • Lopez-Rios J, Duchesne A, Speziale D, Andrey G, Peterson KA, Germann P, Unal E, Liu J, Floriot S, Barbey S, Gallard Y, Müller-Gerbl M, Courtney AD, Klopp C, Rodriguez S, Ivanek R, Beisel C, Wicking C, Iber D, Robert B, McMahon AP, Duboule D, Zeller R. (2014). Attenuated sensing of SHH by Ptch1 underlies evolution of bovine limbs. Nature 511:46-51.
  • Osterwalder M, Speziale D, Shoukry M, Mohan R, Ivanek R, Kohler M, Beisel C, Wen X, Scales SJ, Christoffels VM, Visel A, Lopez-Rios J, Zeller R. (2014). HAND2 targets define a network of transcriptional regulators that compartmentalize the early limb bud mesenchyme. Dev Cell 31:345-57.
  • Laurent F, Girdziusaite A, Gamart J, Barozzi I, Osterwalder M, Akiyama JA, Lincoln J, Lopez-Rios J, Visel A, Zuniga A, Zeller R. (2017). HAND2 Target Gene Regulatory Networks Control Atrioventricular Canal and Cardiac Valve Development. Cell Rep. 19:1602-1613.


  • Zeller R. (2010). The temporal dynamics of vertebrate limb development, teratogenesis and evolution. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 20:384-90.
  • Iber D, Zeller R. (2012). Making sense-data-based simulations of vertebrate limb development. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 22:570-7.
  • Tonnarelli B, Centola M, Barbero A, Zeller R, Martin I. (2014). Re-engineering Development to Instruct Tissue Regeneration. Curr Top Dev Biol. 108:319-38.
  • Zuniga A, Zeller R. (2014). Development. In Turing's hands--the making of digits. Science 345:516-7.