Genetic Regulation of Development and Morphogenesis
The Axelrod lab is investigating how genes orchestrate the amazing processes of morphogenesis during development. Once cells adopt a fate, how do they acquire the correct morphology to carry out their functions? How do they know their position and orientation within the tissue? We are using genetic, molecular and cell biological analyses in both the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, and in the mouse, to address some specific examples of these questions. These studies will provide insight into how errors in these processes give rise to a range of developmental anomalies, and how they may contribute to cancers.
Our current project areas include:
Planar cell polarity mechanisms in Drosophila: Epithelial cells are polarized and serve specialized functions on their apical and basolateral surfaces. Often, they are also polarized along an axis perpendicular to the apical-basal axis, producing patterned arrays within the epithelium (referred to as Planar Cell Polarity, or PCP). We are working to understand the signaling events and cellular responses that produce this cellular asymmetry.
Planar cell polarity in the mouse: We are complementing and extending our mechanistic studies of PCP in the fruitfly with studies of PCP in the mouse.
Planar cell polarity in cell competition and cancer: PCP has been extensively implicated in a variety of cancers, though its precise function(s) is not clear. We are studying the contributions of PCP components to cancers in both genetically defined fly models and in mouse models.
Current projects include studying mechanisms and functions for PCP in the tracheal epithelium and in renal tubules.
Segmental Groove Formation: In the fly embryo, specific bands of cells in the ectoderm invaginate to form segmental grooves. We are studying how these cells are designated, what signals direct their change in shape to drive invagination, and how they execute this response.
Rotation Projects: Students interested in rotation projects in any of the above areas are welcome. Phone or email Jeff to discuss possibilities.
Our work is currently funded by:
The National Institutes of Health