Biological & Geological Sciences 3053b
Biological & Geological Sciences 3053
(519) 661-2111 x 84704
Extracellular matrix remodelling in Developing Xenopus laevis
Healthy tissue function requires proper cell adhesion, and this adhesion is in part provided by proteins collectively known as the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM can be cut and remodelled by proteins called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The function of MMPs is in turn regulated by inhibitors named RECK and TIMPs. Many cell types lose their normal functions when cell-ECM interactions are broken, in a process similar to the transformation of healthy cells into uncontrolled cancer cells. We use the frog, Xenopus laevis, as well as a number of cell lines as model systems to examine how specific ECM remodelling events control cell migration, invasion and ultimately cell fate. Several embryological and microinjection, as well as in vitro and in vivo cell culture techniques are used to investigate expression patterns, cell signalling events, and cytoskeletal rearrangements and how they are related to ECM remodelling events, and diverse processes such as cell proliferation, migration and death.
Currently we are focusing on a membrane bound MMP named MT1-MMP. MT1-MMP appears to be a key lynch-pin in several processes as it is believed to not only regulate ECM remodelling, but also to activate other MMPs, transduce signalling cascades, as well as impact cellular viability. Understanding this regulation would be crucial in our understanding of the roles that these molecules play in development and disease.