Cell and Adhesion Signalling led by Dr Claudia Wellbrock
Within the Molecular Cancer Studies Group of the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester, core research themes are the cell cycle, cell fate and cell signalling.
Cells respond to external stimuli by activating different signalling pathways which ultimately alter the genes expressed in the cell and the proteins that the cell makes in order to alter cell behaviour to respond appropriately to these stimuli. Research teams within the Molecular Cancer Studies Groupaim to understand how these signalling pathways are regulated and integrated into a complex communications network. They also work to understand how changes in these signalling pathways can cause tumour development.
Cell and Adhesion Signalling group
The major cause of mortality in patients with cancer is the formation of distant metastases. Importantly, it is increasingly apparent that genes activated during early tumour initiation are also implicated in crucial steps during metastasis. Moreover, a pattern evolves in which such initiating genes are active in a cell lineage specific manner, which is reflected in their deregulation only in specific cancer types. Understanding the role of cell lineage-specific signalling pathways in tumour initiation and their modulation through the tumour-microenvironment during tumour progression will therefore help to develop improved and more specific approaches to cancer therapy.
Melanoma is a skin cancer that is notorious for its early acquisition of invasive behaviour and its high potential to metastasise. It originates from the melanocytic cell lineage, which gives rise to highly specialised pigment cells in the skin. Work in the laboratory is focusing on two major aspects of melanoma biology: the adhesion-dependent signalling that is induced by the tumour-microenvironment and the cellular signalling that provides tumour-specificity. We are analysing cellular processes at the molecular level, and subsequently investigate the role of these processes in the disease using reconstituted cell-culture models and in vivo approaches (zebrafish, mouse). In particular we are investigating signalling that regulates the melanocyte-lineage specific transcription factor MITF. Furthermore, we are studying the function of members of the family of Src kinases and their crosstalk with other cellular signalling cascades (such as Wnt/beta-catenin signalling and the RAF/ERK/MAP kinase pathway) in melanoma cell proliferation, survival and invasion.
Find out more
The Cell and Adhesion Signalling group is part of the Molecular Cancer Studies Group within the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester. The Molecular Studies Group is led by Dr Stephen Taylor. Find out more about the work of the Cell and Adhesion Signalling group and key publications.