University of Notre Dame College of Engineering

Growth control of epithelial tissues

Growth control of epithelial tissues

Growth control of epithelial tissuesUnderstanding how individual cells and whole organs regulate their size is essential to developing new techniques in treating cancer. What is lacking is a quantitative understanding of how cells incorporate external inputs from their surroundings to regulate final tissue size. Our lab employs live imaging using confocal microscopy, quantitative data analysis and modeling to further our understanding the regulatory network determining robust growth control. The image to the left is a genetically modified Drosophila wing, showing an overgrowth phenotype. In this wing the conserved Hippo signaling pathway was manipulated.



Implications for cancer research

Many of the first uncovered oncogenes were discovered or characterized in the genetic model organism Drosophila, which is equipped with powerful tools for dissecting gene function in vivo. However, many questions require the application of in vitro methods, which are currently limited by the challenging process of creating defined cell lines and optimized culture conditions for organ culture.

Research in our lab focuses on investigating and defining how both intrinsic and extrinsic factors coordinate growth and homeostasis both in vitro and in vivo. This research offers the potential to reveal important insights into why cancer cells are less dependent on contextual cues from the culture milieu than normal cells. Using both bio- and engineering skill sets, we are working to develop and leverage quantitative analyses of cell and tissue growth in the design of new, useful genetic model systems and preclinical screening approaches for cancer research.