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Identification and characterization of novel genes regulating cell migration


Cell migration is needed during development of multi-cellular organisms, but it is also involved in pathological conditions, like invasive migration of tumour cells leading to metastases. Conversion of stationary epithelial cells to invasive migratory cells involves changes in transcription, cytoskeletal organization as well as cell signalling pathways.

That specific transcription factors are required for cells to become migratory in each system where it has been investigated, emphasizes the importance of transcriptional changes. The migration of border cells during Drosophila oogenesis provides a powerful genetically tractable model to study developmentally regulated invasive cell migration in vivo. The aim of the study is to find novel genes regulating cell migration in order to better understand how cells become migratory in vivo.

The proposed project is based on gene expression profiling (microarray) analysis of migrating border cells recently performed in the Rorth lab. The objective of the study is to identify putative regulators of cell migration by targeted gene silencing of candidate genes obtained from the micro-array analysis. The effect of gene silencing will be studied in three different migration models in Drosophila, namely border cells, hemocytes, and recently developed Drosophila model for tumour metastasis. In addition to novel insights into cell migration during development, the results obtained in this study have potential to further our understanding of genes and mechanisms involved in cancer metastasis.

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