huji Koret School of Veterinary Medicine

Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dalit Sela-Donenfeld, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Office Address:
P.O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Phone: +972-(0) 8-9489533; 972-(0)8-9489538
Fax: +972-(0) 8-99467940
Email Address:

Special interests

Developmental Biology, Molecular Embryology, Neural Development, Neural Crest Cells, Embryotoxicity.

Professional Experience and Qualifications

MS.C, Dep. of Biological Chemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1990-1992.
PhD, Dep. of Virology, Hadassah Medical School The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1993-1998.
Post-doctoral training, Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Hadassah Medical School, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1998-2002.
Post-doctoral training, Div. of Developmental Neurobiology, The National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK, 2002-2005.
Lecturer, Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University, Rehovot, 2006-2011.
Senior Lecture, Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Since 2012.

2012-2016 Associate Professor, Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Since 2017.


Embryology for undergraduates, Veterinary embryology for DVM students, Developmental Biology for graduate students



Hindbrain development: The young embryonic hindbrain is divided into repetitive units, termed rhombomeres (r). Later in development the segmented hindbrain gives rise to the brainstem and cerebellum and generates neural crest cells and cranial nerves that form craniofacial bones and innervate facial muscles, respectively. Despite the importance of hindbrain segmentation, fundamental questions such as, which factors control its segmentation and through which mechanisms, how rhombomere identities are gained, what is the function of rhombomere boundaries, where do new neurons arise from at stages when rhombomeres are differentiated, and how the segmentation is linked to the later formation of neural circuits, are only partially answered. In the lab we utilize advanced molecular and genetic tools in chick and mouse models to study these topics, focusing mostly on FGFs and BMPs as extracellular regulators and Pax and Sox genes as intrinsic regulators that together coordinate hindbrain-to-brainstem development. Moreover, we investigate the development of neural stem cells niches in the hindbrain, as well as aim to unravel the hierarchy of events from early interneuron specification to the formation of its connectome at much advantages stages of circuit development.

Neural crest Development: Neural crest cells are a fascinating cell population that are initially formed as part of the dorsal neuroepithlium, and then undergo a dramatic epithelial-to-mesenchymal-transition (EMT), become motile and migrate in the embryo to form peripheral nerves, pigments, and cranial bones. Many signals and transcrptional regulators have been identified as key players in controlling the migration onset of these cells. Nevertheless, much less is known regarding downstream effectors that execute the EMT and migration of neural crest. In the lab we ask whether and how the family of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) may mediate these dramatic events, using chick, mouse and Xenopus embryos as model organisms.

The chick embryo as a model system to analyze environmental toxicity: Water scarce regions make use of treated wastewater for agriculture. A growing human and animal health concern relates to the fact that treated wastewater contain pharmaceutical residue, in effluents. Some of these compounds, such as carbamazepine, were found to be bioavailable for plant uptake and to be re-introduced to people via the food chain. As the developing embryo is highly sensitive to teratogens, an important question is whether pharmaceuticals that are found in the environment affect embryogenesis. In the lab we utilize the chick embryo model to assess whether pharmaceuticals found in treated wastewater affect development.


Lab members:

Dr. Ayelet Kohl (Lab manger)
Rotem Kalev (PhD student )
Narayan Pokhrel (PhD student)
Stas Varshavsky (MSc student)
Michael Pfann (MSc student)
Daniel Lazar (MSc student)
Dorin Ditesheim (MSc student)
Salam Dallasheh (DVM project student)
Nir Ben-Haim (DVM project student)


Dr. Yuval Peretz (Post-Doc)
Dr. Gideon Hen (PhD)
Dr, Ayelet Kohl (PhD)
Dr. Karen Weisinger (PhD)
Galya Kayam (PhD)
Dana Hirsch (MSc)
Daya Dotan (MSc)
Noa Eran (MSc)
Jenia Kosonovsky (MSc)
Lee Roth (MSc)
Rotem Kalev-Altman (MSc)
Veatriki Freggi-Rankins (MSc)
Noa Peled (MSc)
Ron Blumenfeld (MSc)
Dr. Irit Shoval (Lab assistant)
Avi Bar (Lab assistant)
Marko Komlos (Lab assistant)
Dr. Talya Meshulavin (DVM project)
Dr. Michal Hersenfrenz (DVM project)
Dr. Shani Hecht (DVM project)
Sivan Migdal (DVM project)
Zohar Magen (DVM project)
Noam Keidar (DVM project)
Anat Minkovski (DVM project)
Natalia Slutsky (DVM project)
Ronnie Gad ((DVM project)


International interests

Joint Research project with Prof. M. Blum, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
Title: Effectors that regulate neural crest cell migration

Joint Research project with Dr. Yuan Wang, Florida State University. Title: Molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal development of hindbrain auditory nuclei.


Selected Publications

Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Kalcheim C. (1999). Regulation of the onset of neural crest migration by coordinated activity by BMP4 and noggin in the dorsal neural tube. Development, 126: 4749-4762.

Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Kalcheim, C. (2000) Inhibition of noggin expression in the dorsal neural tube by somitogenesis: A mechanism for coordinating the timing of neural crest emigration. Development, 127, 4845-4854.

Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Kalcheim, C. (2002). Localized BMP4-Noggin Interactions Generate the Dynamic Patterning of Noggin Expression in Somites. Developmental Biology, 246, 311-328.

Burstyn-Cohen, T., Stanleigh, J., Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Kalcheim, C. (2004). Canonical Wnt activity regulates trunk neural crest delamination linking BMP/noggin signaling with G1/S transition Development ,131: 5327-5339.

Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Wilkinson D,G. (2005). Eph Receptors: Two ways to sharpen boundaries. Current Biology, 15: 210-212.

Weisinger K, Wilkinson, D., and Sela-Donenfeld D. (2008). Inhibition of BMPs by follistatin is required for FGF3 expression and segmental patterning of the hindbrain. Developmental Biology, 324(2): 213-225.

Sela-Donenfeld, D., Kayam, G., and Wilkinson, D. (2009). Boundary cells regulate a switch in the expression of FGF3 in hindbrain rhombomeres. BMC Developmental Biology, 9:16.

Dan, H., Simsa, S., Hisdai, A., Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Monsonego-Ornan, E. (2009). Expression of matrix metalloproteinases during impairment and recovery of the avian growth plate. J. Anim Sci. 87: 3544-3555.

Tilleman, H., Hakim, V., Novikov, O., Liser, K., Nashelsky L., Di Salvio, M., Krauthammer, M., Scheffner, O., Maor, I., Mayseless, O., Meir, I., Kayam, G., Sela-Donenfeld, D., Simeone, A., and Brodski, C. (2010). Bmp5/7 in concert with the mid-hindbrain organizer control development of noradrenergic locus coeruleus neurons. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 45:1-11.

Weisinger, K., Kayam, S., Missulawin-Drillman, T., and Sela-Donenfeld D. (2010). Analysis of expression and function of FGF-MAPK signaling components in the hindbrain reveals the central role for FGF3 in the regulation of krox20, mediated by Pea3. Developmental Biology. 344:881-95.

Weisinger, K., Kohl, A., Kayam , G., Monsonego-Ornan, E., and Sela-Donenfeld D. (2012). Expression of hindbrain boundary markers is regulated by FGF3. Biology Open 1: 67-74.

Monsonego-Ornan, E., Kosonovsky, J., Bar, A., Fraggi- Rankis, V., Roth, L., Simsa, S., and Sela-Donenfeld D. (2012). Matrix Metalloproteinase 9/Gelatinase B is Required For The Migration Onset of Neural Crest Cells. Developmental Biology 364:162-177.

Khol, A., Hadas, Y., Klar., A and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2012). Characterization of dorsal hindbrain interneurons and their axonal growth in the chick hindbrain. The Journal of Neuroscience. 32: 5715-5771.

Hen, G, Yosefi, S., Shinder, D., Or, A., Migdal, S., Condiotti, R., Galun E., Bor, A., Sela-Donenfeld, D*., and Friedman-Einat, M*. (2012). Gene Transfer to Chicks Using Lentiviral Vectors Administered Via the Embryonic Chorioallantoic Membrane. PlosOne, 7(5): e36531.

Dan H., Simsa-Maziel, S., Reich, A., Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Monsonego-Ornan, E. (2012). The role of Matrix Gla Protein in ossification and recovery of the avian growth plate. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 3: 79. 2012.

Khol, A., Hadas, Y., Klar., A and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2012). Electroporation of the hindbrain to trace axonal trajectories and synaptic targets in the chick embryo. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE)*, Neuroscience section. e50136..

Ulmer B, Hagenlocher C, Schmalholz S, Kurz S, Schweickert A, Kohl A, Roth L, Sela-Donenfeld, D., Blum M. (2013). Calponin 2 acts as an effector of noncanonical Wnt-mediated cell polarization during neural crest cell migration. (2013). Cell Rep 28;3(3):615-21.

Kayam G, Kohl A, Magen Z, Peretz Y, Weisinger K, Bar A, Novikov O, Brodski C, Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2013). A novel role for Pax6 in the segmental organization of the hindbrain. Development 140, 2190-2202.

Hen, G., Friedman-Einat, M and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2014). Primordial germ cells in the dorsal mesentery of the chicken embryo demonstrate left-right asymmetry and polarized distribution of the EMA1 epitope. Journal of Anatomy, 224; 556-563

Kohl, A., Marquardt T., Klar, A., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2015). Control of Axon Guidance and Neurotransmitter Phenotype of dB1 Hindbrain Interneurons by Lim-HD Code. The Journal of Neuroscience 35(6):2596 –2611.

Peretz, Y., Eren, N., Kohl, A., Hen, K., Yaniv, K., Weisinger, K., Cinnamon, Y., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2016). A New Role of Hindbrain Boundaries as Pools of Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells Regulated by Sox2. BMC Biology 14:57; 1-20.

Roth, L., Kalev-Altman, R., Monsonego-Ornan D., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2017). A New Role of The Membrane Type Matrix Metalloproteinase MMP16 in Neural Crest Migration. International Journal of Developmental Biology. 61(3-4-5):245-256

Pokhrel, N., Ben-Tal Cohen, E., Genin, O., Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Cinnamon, Y. Cellular and morphological characterization of blastoderms from freshly laid broiler eggs. (2017). Poultry Sciences, ;96(12):4399-4408.

Pokhrel. N., Cohen, EB., Genin, O., Ruza,l M., Sela-Donenfeld, D., and Cinnamon Y (2018). .Effects of storage conditions on hatchability, embryonic survival and cytoarchitectural properties in broiler from young and old flocks. Poultry Sciences. 97(4):1429-1440.

Peretz, Y., Kohl, A., Slutsky, N., Komlos, M., Varshavsky, S., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. Neural stem cells deriving from chick embryonic hindbrain recapitulate hindbrain development in culture. (2018). Scientific Reports, 8(1):13920.

Hen, G., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2018). "A narrow bridge home": The dorsal mesentery in primordial germ cell migration. Semin Cell Dev Biol, 17: 30539-6.

Frank. D., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. Hindbrain induction and patterning during early vertebrate development. (2019). Cell Mol Life Sci. 76(5):941-960.

Kohl, ⁠A., Golan, N., Cinnamon, Y., Genin, O., Chefetz, B., and Sela-Donenfeld, D. (2019). A proof of concept study demonstrating that environmental levels of carbamazepine impair early stages of chick embryonic development. Environment International, In press.



Laboratory Website


K&E Design
© The Hebrew University of Jerusalem