Our lab is interested in how intercellular interactions in epithelial tissues establish and maintain their proper form and function. One specific focus is on the role of planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling in coordinating cell-cell adhesion and cytoskeletal dynamics. PCP signaling drives polarized cell behaviors in both epithelial and non-epithelial tissues, and disruption of PCP signaling is frequently linked to birth defects and cancer. Therefore, dissecting the underlying mechanisms will shed light on disease etiology.
We have several ongoing efforts to study PCP signaling in different types of epithelia, such as the sensory epithelium of inner ear that is essential for hearing, and the neuroepithelium of the developing brain where neural stem cells reside. We aim to understand how PCP signaling controls disparage processes ranging from cytoskeletal asymmetry to oriented cell divisions.
We use multiple approaches to study these processes, including transgenic mouse models, organotypic and cell cultures, fluorescence live imaging and protein biochemistry.