During embryonic development and tumor progression, morphogenesis involves the spatial distribution of cells via sorting, contraction, and motility. These are highly-orchestrated processes, in which mechanical changes in the acto-myosin cytoskeleton and cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesions are balanced and sequenced.
Our lab is dedicated to dissecting the molecular signaling events that regulate and coordinate these structural changes.
We are focusing on signaling pathways commonly activated during embryogenesis and cancer dissemination, such as the Ras-MAPK and PI3K-AKT pathways. Through biochemical and computational analysis of actin-myosin events, we are discovering the detailed mechanisms and their spatiotemporal order that allows these kinases to control motility and cell dissemination. We are collaborating with mouse model laboratories to functionally address how activation of these pathways during oncogenesis influences cancer invasion and therapeutic resistance.