Beckerle Lab

Mechanisms That Control Cell Growth

Our research focuses on the mechanisms that control cell growth and proliferation in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The superlative genetic tools and fast life cycle of this tiny model organism make it a powerful system for discovery-based research, and its genetic similarity to humans makes much of what is discovered relevant to human biology and health.

In the Edgar lab we use genetics to characterize the programs of cell growth and proliferation that occur during development, regeneration and tumorigenesis, with the goal of finding the genes that act as limiting regulators in each context. We furthermore seek to understand how networks of genes and communities of cells in a tissue function as integrated systems.

Techniques in use in the lab range from:

  • classical and molecular genetics,
  • high resolution imaging,
  • whole genome gene expression profiling, and
  • RNAi screening.

Current Projects

Current projects in the lab fall in two areas. One set of projects focuses on the mechanisms of epithelial self-renewal in the intestine of the adult fly. A second set of projects addresses how G1/S progression – the initiation of DNA replication – is controlled by rates of cell growth and growth factor signaling.

For both projects to overeaching goal is to define new mechanisms involved in growth control that are relevant to basic paradigms in cell and developmental biology, and to issues in human health such as cancer diagnosis and therapy, chronic inflammation, and regenerative medicine.