Tapon lab Apoptosis and Proliferation Control Laboratory

Image of the histoblasts, the cells that form the abdomen of the adult fruit fly.

How is the size of our bodies and organs defined and maintained? That’s the question at the heart of our research.

In our lab we are trying to solve one of the most challenging questions in biology – what controls tissue size?

How do cells know they are in the right order and number to form a heart? Or a liver? Or vast stretches of gut?

To achieve consistent tissue and body size in individuals of the same species, the number of cells and how they grow must be tightly controlled throughout an organism’s entire life.

Cells that are allowed to grow unchecked can form tumours. The more we learn about how cells are controlled and organised in normal health and development, the greater an insight we gain into what’s happening in disease.

Our lab is most interested in a series of cell signals that form a pathway we call Hippo. This pathway is interrupted in many cancers so we are trying to understand how Hippo is linked to the way body tissues are built.

To do this we look closely at genetics using mouse and fly models, at the role of different proteins, follow what happens in real-time using live microscope images and piece data together using mathematical models.