We explore how defective, or weak, cells are detected and eliminated from tissues.
For example, loss of cell polarity or loss of cell adhesion leads to extensive apoptosis. Also, abnormal differences in growth rates between neighbouring cells lead to the death of slow-growing cells.
We want to decipher the mechanisms that link basic features such as cell polarity, adhesion, growth rate and cell fate to the apoptotic machinery.
We focus on the role of JNK signaling and on the transcriptional activation of the pro-apoptotic genes hid and reaper. We have recently shown that Shnurri, a mediator of Dpp signaling protects the dorsal epidermis from JNK-mediated activation of reaper.
Additional areas of investigation include growth stimulation and termination by developmental signals and mechanical constraints. We are also investigating the range of developmental signals (Wingless, Dpp and Hedgehog) and Notum as a potential drug target.