ELUCIDATING THE ROLE OF PI4,5P2 SIGNALING NETWORKS IN CELL MIGRATION AND CANCER METASTASIS
We are interested in how signaling networks control normal cell migration and cancer cell metastasis. Cell migration is an essential part of many normal biological processes, including wound healing, the immune response, and embryonic development. Cell migration is also what drives the spread of cancer and a better understanding of this process is essential for improving the treatment of cancer patients and patient survival. Intricate molecular communication networks have evolved to control these processes. Our work is focusing on how cells receive, read and relay such signals, and how disruptions in these processes lead to tumor formation and cancer metastasis. We are approaching these questions by focusing on the signaling processes regulated by the lipid phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). Our research focuses on PIP2, because PIP2 is central to the control of multiple signaling networks critical for cell migration.
Our current research is focused on understanding how PIP2 specifically, yet differently, controls several processes that are key drivers of cell migration and tissue invasion: (1) actin polymerisation, (2) focal adhesion assembly and disassembly, and (3) the emerging role that the trafficking of cell surface receptors – in particularly of integrins – plays in cell migration. We anticipate that a better understanding of how PIP2 regulates and coordinates these processes to drive cell migration will enable the development of new therapeutic anti-cancer approaches by targeting the kinases that produce PIP2.