Our laboratory uses the Drosophila ovary as a model for studying the fundamental properties of epithelial stem cells, their associated niche, and the connection between epithelial stem cells and cancer. We are interested in questions such as:
- How is stem cell fate maintained within a dynamic epithelial tissue?
- How do epithelial stem cells differ from other cells in the tissue?
- What is the nature of the epithelial stem cell niche?
- What is the role of epithelial stem cells in normal reproductive physiology?
- How is a healthy population of stem cells maintained throughout adult life?
- Do stem cell defects underlie epithelial cancers and what can studies of epithelial stem cells teach us about the earliest steps in cancer formation?
Stem Cells in the Drosophila Ovarian Epithelium
The follicular epithelium in the Drosophila ovary is an ideal model for the study of epithelial biology. It possesses many classical epithelial features, such as a columnar cell shape, apical/basal polarity, and canonical cell adhesion complexes, and yet is a relatively simple tissue and is highly tractable for molecular and cell biological analysis. Combined with the powerful genetic tools available in Drosophila, this allows us to address questions in epithelial stem cell and tissue biology with single-cell resolution in the natural, in vivo context.