Our research focuses on the morphogenic events that allow the Wolffian (epididymal) duct to elongate and coil. Without proper development, male infertility will result. The duct elongates primarily via cell proliferation and cell rearrangements, e.g. convergent extension, of which Protein Tyrosine Kinase 7 (PTK7) plays a major role. Our data supports the hypothesis that PTK7 activates myosin II, which in turn generates cell protrusions and subsequent cell intercalation. This maintains proper ductal length, thickness of the epithelium, cell size and shape. PTK7 does not regulate cell proliferation. During postnatal development we discovered that Phosphatase and Tensin Homologue (PTEN) regulates cell differentiation. PTEN is of special interest because it is a tumor suppressor in many tissues, and its expression in the epididymis maybe a reason why the epididymis rarely succumbs to cancer. However, we discovered that PTEN is not a tumor suppressor in the epididymis.
- BS, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, University of East London
- PhD, Reproductive Biology, The Babraham Institute