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Areas of Research Interest

Visit the sections below to learn about the research we're doing.
  • Tumor progression and metastasis is the major cause of mortality for cancer patients. Because multiple genetic alterations contribute to tumor progression and metastasis involves multiple tissues, it has been difficult to decipher mechanisms underlying the growth and spread of tumor cells. We have designed and performed genetic screens in Drosophila to interrogate its genome in somatic cells for mutations that can promote tumor growth and/or cause metastatic behavior.
  • To understand the developmental functions of tumor suppressors, we have been performing genetic screens to identify overgrowth mutations in mosaic flies. Interestingly, all the identified mutations also deregulate organ and organism size, suggesting that tumorigenesis might reflect an impairment of organ size control. Three classes of mutations have been isolated.
  • Forward genetics have played a pivotal role in our understanding of modern biology in lower organisms. However, the lack of comparable genetic tools in mammals has impaired our ability to gain understanding of many aspects of mammalian biology and disease. The current approaches for gene inactivation in the mouse, the mammalian model of choice, have been limited to targeted gene knockouts or chemical mutagenesis, which is either prohibitively expensive to scale up or largely intractable due to technical inefficiency. Furthermore, there is really no efficient approach for transgenesis in most vertebrates and mammals.
  • One of the most direct applications of the most direct applications of the PBsystem is for insertional mutagenesis. We have now developed an efficient transposition system in mice, which can be used to rapidly produce large numbers of single PB nsertional mutant strains. This technical achievement allows the quick and effortless correlation between an insertion, the gene disrupted, and the phenotype. Insertional mutagenesis is triggered by the simple breeding of a PB transposon, which eliminates the costly and labor-intensive production of mutants by ES cell-based knockout technology.