We are interested in how shape and form arise during animal development. During morphogenesis, cells interpret complex information and react accordingly to shape tissues and organs. Here, many cell behaviours, such as cell migration and cell shape changes, work together. Despite recent progress, it still remains mysterious how all these behaviours are regulated and coordinated.
To study cell behaviours in the living organism, we use the morphogenesis of the adult abdominal epidermis of Drosophila. Employing a combination of in vivo 4D microscopy and sophisticated genetic tools, we observe and quantify all cell behaviours after experimental manipulation of the system. We have two major areas of interest: (1) What are the signals that instruct the cells to execute certain behaviours during morphogenesis? (2) How do cells translate these signals into specific actions, such as migration and constriction? Addressing these questions will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of morphogenetic processes and the underlying cell behaviours as well as of how the mechanical forces that ultimately drive morphogenesis are created. These insights will be of widespread relevance, since the (mis-) regulation of cell behaviour is also fundamental to wound repair and numerous diseases, including cancer.
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