How cells regulate their population size
Our research aims to understand the mechanisms of how cells sense and maintain the size of multicellular populations at their appropriate density.
T cells require the protein coronin 1 to reach and maintain their cell population size. The movie illustrates T cells dividing until their appropriate density has been reached, after which coronin 1 production reaches a plateau. As a result cell death (cells turning red) is initiated and T cells begin to die until the appropriate density has been reached again. Group Jean Pieters, Biozentrum; Animations: New Medium Center, University of Basel.
Maintenance of cell population size is fundamental to the proper functioning of multicellular organisms, yet the underlying mechanisms remain largely undefined.
Coronin proteins are key regulators of cell population size
All multicellular organisms require a mechanism to regulate the appropriate numbers of cells within their tissues and organs for optimal functioning. We basically ask the question: How do cells ‘tune’ their population sizes? Our long-standing interests in unravelling the function of coronin has recently defined members of the coronin protein family as key regulators of cell population size in a cell-intrinsic manner.
How cells sense their population density
How cells sense their population density is largely unclear. The aim of our research is to analyze how coronin proteins orchestrate the processes involved in cell population size regulation and to delineate the molecular mechanisms involved.
An evolutionarily conserved pathway
Coronin proteins are expressed in all multicellular eukaryotes, having evolved at the time of unicellular-to-multicellular transition. In our laboratory, we are using multiple approaches to delineate coronin-mediated cell population size regulation, ranging from analysis of facultative multicellular amoeba, to in vitro and in vivo analysis of the coronin signaling pathway in mammals, including mice and humans.