King's College London

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Professor Brian Stramer

Research interests

Our group's focus can loosely be divided into two main interests:<br /><br />1) Understanding Cell Motility In Vivo<br />Cell migration is a widely researched and clinically relevant process that, with a greater understanding, may allow us to control a number of pathologies - arguably the most significant being cancer metastasis. However, cell motility has primarily been investigated using cell culture models, which involves watching cells move on artificial 2-dimensional substrates. While these in vitro assays have been useful, there will always be questions surrounding the physiological relevance of studying cell movement ex vivo on tissue culture plastic. Eventually we need to extrapolate our in vitro cell migration knowledge to in vivo physiologically relevant scenarios and our Drosophila macrophage migration model is an excellent place to begin this process. Pertinent to our research interests is that Drosophila macrophage migration is completely amenable to live imaging using standard widefield or confocal microscopy. This in vivo motility system, along with the genetic tractability of flies, creates a powerful model to dissect the genes regulating migration when cells are in their natural environment.<br /><br />2) The Genetics of a Repair Response<br />We have recently completed a microarray screen that has allowed us to examine the genes turned on by sterile wounding in Drosophila. This approach has elucidated a number of genes specific to 'wound-activated' macrophages or genes expressed by other tissue types during repair. Aside from an interest in dissecting the function of these novel wound induced genes, we also hope to extrapolate knowledge gained from this genetically tractable system to vertebrate models and ultimately to humans. For instance, we find that GADD45, an epithelial wound gene in the fly, is similarly increased in the skin of mouse wounds highlighting the evolutionary conservation of the genetic program behind wound healing.<br />

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