Patrick Humbert

Wednesday, 6 June 2018 | 3:00 pm

La Trobe University Research Centre for Molecular Cancer Prevention, Dept of Biochemistry and Genetics | La Trobe University, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Cell polarity, tissue organisation and the regulation of cancer progression

Cell polarity, or asymmetry, is a fundamental property of all cells and is encoded by an evolutionarily conserved genetic program that coordinates the differential division of stem cells, the positioning of cells within an organ and ultimately the precise architecture of the organ. Disruption of this genetic program leads to the disorganization of tissue and can promote the first steps of cancer.

Our laboratory is interested in how cell asymmetry and tissue organization can regulate cancer initiation, progression and metastasis with the ultimate aim to devise therapeutics to help tumours to “reorganize”themselves, thereby stopping the cancer’s growth and spread. To address this question, we have focussed on understanding the function of Scribble, a highly conserved cell polarity regulator that plays major roles in development and tumour suppression in Drosophila and mammals.

We have utilised a multi- disciplinary approach including structural, imaging, proteomics, and functional studies in Drosophila and mammalian cells to provide critical insights into how Scribble regulates distinct signalling pathways in vivo. These studies pave the way for the development of chemical and genetic strategies to therapeutically target pathological alterations in the Scribble complex, and more generally diseases of tissue disorganisation such as cancer.