CELL MORPHOGENESIS SIGNALING
A fundamental problem in cell biology is to understand the processes underlying cell shape formation – Cell Morphogenesis. This involves the cytoskeletal dynamics that produce the mechanical forces that drive shape changes at organelle, cell and tissue-length scales. Cell morphogenesis underlies processes such as cell migration or neuronal growth cone motility that play fundamental roles in phenomena such as immune function, wound healing, or neuronal development. Understanding these phenomena is therefore of utmost importance to intervene in pathologies such as cancer metastasis, fibrosis, or neurological diseases.
Every signal transduction pathway implicated in morphogenesis is ultimately linked to Rho GTPase proteins. While a wealth of knowledge has been accumulated about the function of these proteins using classic biochemical and cell biological approaches, we still know very little about how Rho GTPases are spatio-temporally regulated at the relevant time (seconds to minutes) and length (micrometers) scales at which the cytoskeleton is regulated.
Our lab builds genetically-encoded biosensors to image spatio-temporal Rho GTPase activation patterns, and studies the latter in different motility and neuronal growth cone navigation model systems. We combine the latter tools with high content imaging, proteomics, microfabrication and computer vision approaches to decipher the signaling networks that spatio-temporally regulate Rho GTPases. Our multidisciplinary approach towards understanding the spatio-temporal logic of Rho GTPase signaling will contribute novel avenues to disease processes.