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.


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

Ahmed Elbediwy, Yixiao Zhang, Mathias Cobbaut, Philippe Riou, Ray S Tan, Selene K Roberts, Chris Tynan, Roger George, Svend Kjaer, Marisa L Martin-Fernandez, Barry J Thompson, Neil Q McDonald, Peter J Parker

J Cell Sci jcs. 223743. (2019)

Mario Aguilar-Aragon, Georgina Fletcher, Barry James Thompson

bioRxiv 592311 (2019).

Clara Sidor, Nerea Borreguero-Munoz, Georgina Fletcher, Ahmed Elbediwy, Hannah Vanyai, Oriane Guillermin, Barry J Thompson

BioRxiv 595439. (2019)

Thompson BJ

The EMBO journal 37 (23) (2018).

Oliver Gordon, Conor M Henry, Naren Srinivasan, Susan Ahrens, Anna Franz, Safia Deddouche, Probir Chakravarty, David Phillips, Roger George, Svend Kjaer, David Frith, Ambrosius P Snijders, Rita S Valente, Carolina J Simoes da Silva, Luis Teixeira, Barry Thompson, Marc S Dionne, Will Wood, Caetano Reis e Sousa

eLife, 7, e38636. (2018)

Zoe Vincent-Mistiaen, Ahmed Elbediwy, Hannah Vanyai, Jennifer Cotton, Gordon Stamp, Emma Nye, Bradley Spencer-Dene, Gareth J Thomas, Junhao Mao, Barry Thompson. 

eLife 7, e33304. (2018)

Robert P Ray, Poulami S Ganguly, Silvanus Alt, John R Davis, Andreas Hoppe, Nic Tapon, Guillaume Salbreux, Barry J Thompson

Developmental Cell 46 (1), 23-39. (2018)

BJ Thompson, FG Giancotti

Current opinion in Cell Biology 51, iv-vii. (2018)

Mario Aguilar-Aragon, Ahmed Elbediwy, Valentina Foglizzo, Georgina C Fletcher, Vivian SW Li, Barry J Thompson

Cell reports 22 (7), 1639-1646. (2018)

A Elbediwy, BJ Thompson

Current opinion in cell biology 51, 117-123/. (2018)

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.