Our lab uses molecular, cellular and genetic approaches to investigate how various signals are integrated in progenior or stem cells in order to dictate cell fates, regulate cell proliferation and establish cell polarity during morphogenesis. We mainly focus on the mammalian limb, skeleton and liver, and we are exploiting these systems to explore human biology and address the underlying pathological mechanisms of genetic and non-genetic diseases including cancer.
Cell-cell signaling plays essential and pivital roles in both development and physiology. Among all signaling pathways, we focuse on the ones mediated by Wnts, Hedgehog (Hh) and Hippo that are evolutionarily conserved, act repetitively in different systems and regulate a diverse array of biological processes. Mutations in components of these signaling pathways cause devastating birth defects, degenerative disorders and cancer.
The vertebrate limb and skeleton provide a great system for us to understand morphogensis. Early patterning signals, which include Hhs, Wnts, FGFs, and TGF-superfamily members, provide temporal and spatial information to instruct skeletal anlagen formation, long before overt skeletal morphogenesis. These signaling pathways also play major roles in regulating cell fates, proliferation, and polarity in the formed skeletal system. Our previous work has provided insights into several fundamental aspects of tissue and organ morphogenesis in the limb and skeleton and tumor formation in the liver. Our current efforts are divided into three major aspects: First, understand the molecualr and celluar mechanisms whereby cell fate choices are made when mesenchymal stem cells are differentiating. Second, understand the regulatory mechanism whereby Wnt signaling controls polanar cell polarity. Third, understand the mechanisms by which the Wnt and Hippo signaling pathways regulate stem cell proliferation and differentiation in both development and regeneration using liver as a model system.
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Last Updated: April 1, 2013