Cell differentiation, signaling and migration
Each cell is specialized for a specific role and moves and communicates in a different way. If properties of cells change, this can result in serious diseases like epilepsy or cancer. We investigate fundamental processes in these disturbed cells in the brain, immune system and other organs. This is necessary in order to tackle diseases in the future.
Image: Macrophages (red), vessels (arrow) and mammary tumor cell mass (green) visualized simultaneously using multiphoton microscopy
From: Le Dévédec et al. 2010
Topics within this research theme
Tumor cells are altered cells themselves, but they also behave differently in tissue. In order to find new drug targets and therapies, we want to find out more about the changes within the cells as well as their altered adhesion and motility. We focus on the role of tyrosine kinases in the development of breast cancer. Furthermore we want to find out more about integrins and their exact role in tumor growth and cell motility.
Recent results have shown that absence of the glucocorticoid receptor in the brain causes early maturation of neurons. As a result, neurons do not migrate to the right place and memory making is disturbed. We want to find out more about this process, including other involved factors that influence learning. We focus on the role of the glucocorticoid receptor in epileptic brains, and on doublecortin-like kinase (DCL), a gene influenced by the glucocorticoid receptor.
How are infectious diseases like tuberculosis recognized by the immune system? How can the immune system recognize cancer cells? And how can the immune system be suppressed to prevent harm caused by inflammation? We study immune systems of zebrafish in order to be able to answer these questions. Zebrafish are useful model organisms for human disease.
Of many cell signaling pathways, a lot is known with respect to the involved molecules and interactions. However, the mechanical and physical aspects are often poorly understood. We use and develop in vivo Single-Molecule Microscopy methods to follow the involved molecules one-by-one in real time and understand how and why they move. We combine these results with in vitro studies in order to test our mechanistic models.