Speaker: Andreas Jenny, Professor - Department of Developmental & Molecular Biology, Department of Genetics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Title: Of Wnt and Waste: Stories on Wnt signaling and a recent form of autophagy
Abstract: Wnt/Wingless (Wg) growth factors commonly signal through either the canonical Wnt (Wg)-Frizzled (Fz)/β-catenin pathway or through non-canonical Wnt pathways such as the Wnt/Fx-planar cellular polarity (PCP) pathway, resulting the polarization of cells within the pane of the epithelium. These two pathways are highly conserved between humans, mice, fish, and flies. Canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling is essential for many aspects of development. For example in vertebrates, it controls the specification of the dorsal-ventral (D-V) embryonic axis, cell proliferation in many tissues. On the other hand, PCP signaling allows a cell to form structures that require not only positional, but also vectorial information as in the ordered arrangement of hairs of mammalian skin or ommatidia in the fly eye.
Our lab studies the function of Wnk kinases, for which we have identified a novel role in Wnt signaling in addition to their well-known role in the regulation of ion homeostasis in the kidney, where their lack causes hypertension (Gordon syndrome). We are furthermore interested in how Rho kinase (Rck) is required for PCP establishment which may help to understand tumor cell migration.