Organ patterning and growth controlled by morphogens
Our research group focuses on molecular mechanisms that control cell fates and growth of the developing organs.
Cell-cell communication is critical to acquire proper cell fates and organ size during organ development. Defects in such communications cause birth defects or disease such as cancer. Despite its importance, it remains largely unknown how cells communicate with each other to build our functional organs during development.
Morhogens control cell-cell communication
A class of molecules that mediates cell-cell communication is called “morphogens”, which disperse and form a concentration gradient in developing organs to control cell fates and growth. The aim of this project is to address the molecular mechanism of how morphogens control cell fates and growth of developing organs.
Manipulating morphogen gradients
We are investigating how Decapentaplegic (Dpp) acts as a morphogen to control cell fates and growth of wing precursor of Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. To do so, we combine novel synthetic biology and genome engineering approaches to directly manipulate the endogenous Dpp morphogen gradient.
Our new approach would not only distinguish a variety of models but also provide a novel insight into how morphogens function. Since a variety of evolutionarily conserved molecules are repeatedly used as morphogens during development, our approach and results would serve as a template to understand how cells communicate with each other to build our functional organs.