UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Cell-cell adhesion Lab

Led by Professor Maria Balda

Functional analysis of cell-cell adhesions

Cells adhere to each other to integrate into tissues. Examples are epithelial and endothelial cells that form selective barriers between compartments of different compositions, or retinal cells to form a light sensing and signal transmitting sensory tissue. To be able to adhere, cells form specialised cell-cell adhesion complexes (tight and adherens junctions, desmosomes and gap junctions). Assembly and disassembly of the cell-cell adhesion complexes are tightly regulated during physiological conditions but is disturbed in pathological situations such as wounds, inflammation, neovascularisation, transformation or retinal dystrophies. Our research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms through which cell-cell junctions crosstalk with each other and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion complexes to regulate tissue formation, cell proliferation and gene expression. Our findings are used not only to understand physiologically complex processes ranging from tubulogenesis of epithelial and endothelial cells to the development of the embryo and the eye but also to identify novel therapeutic tools to reverse pathological conditions such as proliferative or degenerative eye diseases as well as tumorigenesis.

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