The Thompson Group - Epithelial Biology

Our lab examines the molecular mechanisms of normal epithelial tissue development, adult tissue regeneration, and carcinoma formation. We combine Drosophila and mouse genetics with analysis of cancer cell lines, intestinal organoids, and human cancer patient samples to answer the question of how cell polarity organises the behaviour of cells within an epithelium.

To do this we take three main approaches:

  • Genetic analysis of gene functions in vivo;
  • Live-imaging of epithelial tissue development; and
  • Computational modelling of cell polarity and cell behaviour.

Our recent work has examined two different types of cell polarity in epithelia, apico-basal polarity and planar polarity. Both the apical-basal and planar polarity systems are able to influence signalling through the Hippo pathway, which acts via Drosophila Yki (called YAP/ TAZ in mammals) to control cell proliferation and cell morphology. We are interested in understanding the physiological roles of Hippo signalling as a sensor of epithelial cell polarity and mechanical forces in both Drosophila and mice.

The Thompson Lab is part of the EMBL Australia Partner Laboratory Network. Find more information about the EMBL ACT Node here.