The seires of events that pattern the vertebrate embryo may be considered a proliferative, almost cancerous-like growth phase goverened by strict developmental guidelines. Many of these events rely on cell-cell communication and the transduction of signals across the plasma membrane of the receiving cell. Thus, disrupting this signaling has dramatic and disastrous affects on many aspects of cell physiology including, but not limited to, cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions, cell polarity, endo- and exocytosis, migration, proliferation, and differentiation. My research specifically deals with the cell-cell signaling events that pattern the developing vertebrate embryo, and particulary how crosstalk generated by Reactive Oxygen Species influence Wnt-beta-catenin, Planar Cell Polarity, and G-Protein Coupled Receptor-linked pathways. The models that I use vary from established tissue culture cells like the mouse F9 embryonal carcinoma line, to the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo. The biological phenomenon that piques my interest is the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, which is involved in normal embryonic development including extraembryonic endoderm formation, gastrulation and heart formation, as well in human disease conditions such as fibrosis and metastatic cancer.
Over the years my laboratory has been involved in studying several aspects of fish and mouse embryonic development and as such we have generated many spin-off research projects that require further investigation by individuals at the undergraduate, M.Sc., Ph.D, and PDF levels. Many of these projects deal with members of the Wnt signaling pathway that dictate and direct the cell-cell signaling events that pattern the developing embryo. Although our research is focused on the Wnt pathway, we are in no way limited by them. To that end, the lab offers considerable training and we use state-of-the-art molecular, cellular, and biochemical approaches to elucidate a number of diverse biological problems associated with development.