Understanding the control of tissue growth and form

The Thompson laboratory uses both Drosophila and mice as model organisms to explore how cells construct epithelial tissues during development and how epithelial tumours can arise. We focus on the question of how cell polarity organises the behaviour of cells within an epithelium.

We take three main approaches:

  • Genetic analysis of gene functions in vivo;
  • Live-imaging of epithelial tissue development; and
  • Computational modelling of cell polarity and cell behaviour.

We aim to combine these approaches to identify molecular mechanisms responsible for organising cell polarity and cell behaviour during tissue growth and morphogenesis in epithelia.

Our recent work has examined two different types of cell polarity in epithelia, apico-basal polarity and planar polarity. Both the apical-basal and planar polarity systems are able to influence signalling through the Hippo pathway, which acts via Drosophila Yki (called YAP/ TAZ in mammals) to control cell proliferation and cell morphology. We are interested in understanding the physiological roles of Hippo signalling as a sensor of epithelial cell polarity and mechanical forces in both Drosophila and mice.

Our group has established conditionally-inducible YAP/TAZ loss and gain of function mice for analysis of their function in mammalian development and cancers.

We are examining skin homeostasis and squamous cell carcinoma; intestinal regeneration and colorectal cancer; cartilage development and chondrosarcoma; as well as brain development and brain cancers.

*The Thompson lab will be established at the Australian National University in 2019. 

  • Genetic analysis of gene functions in vivo;
  • Live-imaging of epithelial tissue development; and
  • Computational modelling of cell polarity and cell behaviour.
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Fletcher, G.C., Diaz-de-la-Loza, M.D., Borreguero-Munoz, N., Holder, M., Aguilar-Aragon, M., and Thompson, B.J. (2018)

Mechanical strain regulates the Hippo pathway in Drosophila.

Development. 145(5).

Elbediwy, A., Vincent-Mistiaen, Z.I., Spencer-Dene, B., Stone, R.K., Boeing, S., Wculek, S.K., Cordero, J., Tan, E.H., Ridgway, R., Brunton, V.G., et al and Thompson, B.J. (2016)

Integrin signalling regulates YAP and TAZ to control skin homeostasis.

Development. 143: 1674-1687.

Fletcher, G.C., Elbediwy, A., Khanal, I., Ribeiro, P.S., Tapon, N., and Thompson, B.J. (2015)

The Spectrin cytoskeleton regulates the Hippo signalling pathway.

EMBO J. 34: 940-954.

Thompson BJ, Cohen SM. (2006)

The Hippo pathway regulates the bantam microRNA to control cell proliferation and apoptosis in Drosophila.

Cell. 126(4): 767-74.