Cell Biology, Ageing and Pathology

Group
  • Unit(s) of assessment: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
  • School: School of Science and Technology

Overview

Molecular and cellular basis of death / survival and major life threatening diseases and conditions; co-ordination of metabolism and cell cycle progression.

Research in the group includes both basic and applied molecular cell biology.

Our research strengths are in mitochondrial signalling, subcellular trafficking and protein secretion, the co-ordination and regulation of metabolism and cell cycle progression, receptor-mediated cell signalling, cellular models of disease, inflammation, cancer and epigenetic regulation of diseases. These research activities are key to an understanding of major diseases and their progression and ultimately may lead to new, improved therapeutic options

A key interest is the biology of the cross-linking enzyme tissue transglutaminase (TG2), its interaction with the extracellular matrix and its functions in cell attachment, differentiation and migration. We have interests in stem cell biology and the precise control of cellular microenvironments to model functional tissue analogues. Another focus is the role of the mitochondrial enzyme monoamine oxidase in cell survival and development and the role of mitochondria in cell cycle progression. We also have interests in precise control of cellular microenvironments to model functional tissue analogues. Work in these areas informs and overlaps with research into mechanisms that underpin human diseases.

Pathology research focuses on major life threatening diseases and conditions such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease and conditions which increase with age (immunosenescence, neurodegeneration). Research on cancer focuses on cellular changes that are hallmarks of tumorigenesis, including the study of the cytoskeleton, the telomere and mechanisms of mutagenesis. An interest in the group is the biology of diabetes, particularly mechanisms that affect insulin secretion from the pancreatic beta cells. Additional areas of research include the decline in function of immune cells during ageing and the role of TG2 in kidney fibrosis and other pathological conditions.

Finally the group undertakes integrated approaches to understand the molecular mechanisms of epigenetic variation in the dynamic control of gene expression independently of DNA sequence changes. The aim is to identify the epigenetic mechanisms that cause abnormal activation or silencing of specific genes and characterize how alterations of the epigenome regulate gene networks involved in the aetiology of human disease. The role of DNA methylation, chromatin modifying proteins, histone modifications, non-coding RNAs and their interplay, are investigated in the context of, for example, inflammatory bowel diseases and gastrointestinal cancers. This knowledge is used to generate therapeutic tools that could distinctively and heritably alter the fate of cells, against life-threatening diseases.

Related staff

  • Professor Yvonne Barnett - ageing, human mutagenesis, immunosenescence
  • Professor Ellen Billett - monoamine oxidase (MAO), mitochondrial dysfunction, neurodegeneration
  • Dr Sergio Colombo - regulation of metabolism during cell cycle progression, epigenetics and cancer, mitochondrial role in pathophysiology
  • Dr Amanda Coutts - Cancer, p53 and its co-factor JMY, autophagy and cell survival
  • Dr Alan Hargreaves - transglutaminase, neural stem cells
  • Dr Maria Hatziapostolou - cancer growth and aggressiveness, epigenetic regulation, genome-wide methylation, transcriptomic and microRNA analyses
  • Dr Glen Kirkham - stem cell biology, tissue engineering, biological imaging, cellular microenvironment
  • Dr Christos Polytarchou - inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, micro RNA and non-coding RNAs, epigenetic regulation
  • Dr Mark Turner - diabetes, insulin secretion, TNFR-associated periodic syndrome (TRAPS)
  • Dr Aslihan Ugun-Klusek – neurodegeneration, proteomics, PD and AD models, monoamine oxidase
  • Dr Elisabetta Verderio Edwards - transglutaminase, extracellular matrix, syndecan-4, kidney fibrosis

Publications

Selected publications are listed on group members' profile pages.

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