Dr Masazumi (Masa) Tada
My research focuses on cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying co-ordinated and directed cell movements. The primary focus is coordinated and directed cell movements occurring during gastrualtion; epiboly, convergence/extension (CE) and anterior migration of prechordal mesoderm cells. CE is mediated by polarised mesenchymal cells in the notochord, which undergo directional cell intercalations by neighbour exchanges, contributing to the elongation of the body axis. In contrast, directed migration of polarised mesenchymal cells in the prechordal plate is mediated by collective cell migration in which the cells migrate as a cohesive cluster without neighbour exchanges involved. What co-ordinates cell behaviours underlying these different morphogentic processes? To address this question, we use the zebrafish as a model system based on time-lapse imaging analyses using genetic and developmental approaches.
Little was known about genetic and molecular pathways that regulate such coordinated cell behaviours until the end of 20th century. Since then we have shown that Wnt11 is a key regulator of CE movements during gastrulation in vertebrates (Heisenberg, Tada et al., 2000: Tada and Smith, 2000). However, it has been evident that this ligand acts in a pathway related to the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway in Drosophila. Recently, the core PCP genes have been also implicated in regulating a variety of morphogenetic processes in vertebrates including neural tube closure, orientation of cochlear hair cells, migration of facial motorneurons and ciliogenesis (Tada and Kai, 2009; Tada and Kai, 2012). Given the similarities in cell behaviours during gastrulation and cancer metastasis, PCP genes are candidates showing altered activities during cancer progression.
Current topics in the lab are: 1) How the core PCP protein Flamingo/Celsr regulate cell adhesion and PCP signalling separately; 2) What regulates the mode of collective migration of prechordal mesoderm cells; and 3) How normal cells detect transformed cells in simple epithelia, and eliminate them apically or basally from the epithelia at initiation of carcinogenesis.
To further explore fundamental problems underlying morphogenesis, I collaborate with Steve Wilson in the zebrafish group, Jon Clarke (Kings College London), Paul Martin (Univ. Bristol) and Yasu Fujita (Hokkaido Univ., Japan).
Profile 1983 BSc, University of Tsukuba (Japan) 1986 MSc, University of Tsukuba (Japan) 1989 Research associate, National Cardiovascular Centre Research Institute (Japan) 1990 PhD, University of Tsukuba (Japan) 1993 Instructor with Prof. Naoto Ueno, Hokkaido University (Japan) 1995 Post-doc with Dr. Jim Smith, National Institute for Medical Research 2000 MRC Career Development Fellow, UCL 2005 Lecturer, UCL
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