Fun with flies!

Welcome to the Thomas Lab

Most tissues in multicellular animals are organized as epithelial sheets or tubes. The cells of an epithelium are joined together by impermeable cell-cell adhesion complexes, and form barriers between body compartments and to the outside world. Epithelia thus provide the first line of defense against >95% of human pathogens.

The cells in each epithelium can vary widely in morphology, but all contain a polarized apical-basal axis. This axis provides a spatial reference around which each specific cell type develops its characteristic activities and morphology. Loss of this polarity is associated with the development of aggressive metastatic tumors when cells lose their epithelial attachments and migrate to other parts of the body.

Our specific interests lie in understanding how the apical-basal axis is utilized to develop and stabilize the apical domain, and to regulate cell/organ growth. Using Drosophila as a model system, we focus on the role of the giant F-actin-binding proteins called Spectrins, and their associated proteins, in these processes.

Head and shoulders photograph of Claire Thomas

Claire Thomas

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