Research/Areas of Interest: Research in my laboratory is directed toward understanding the mechanisms that control animal patterning and morphogenesis. Our recent studies focused on understanding how contractile and protrusive forces coordinate to control epithelial morphogenesis using the fly retina as a model system. We found that during retina morphogenesis cell contacts and apical cell perimeters repeatedly contract and expand. These pulsatile dynamics that occur over many hours are critical for proper morphogenesis. We identified important roles for the adhesion molecular Sidekick (Sdk) in coordinating this mechanical cycle by interacting interchangeably with cytoskeletal proteins that affect either contraction or expansion. Sidekick is the first known adhesion molecule found to localize specifically to the tricellular adherens junctions where three or more epithelial cells meet. The focus of our current studies is to determine how these specialized junctions form and operate during epithelial morphogenesis. Insights gained from our studies will be broadly applicable to the understanding of epithelial morphogenesis and diseases that involve the breakdowns of normal tissue organization.

Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Cornell University, NY, USA, 1996
  • Master of Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, 1991
  • Bachelor of Science, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, 1989