Epithelial morphogenesis – from molecular pathways to cellular behavior

Many events that shape the developing animal embryos involve rearrangements of simple epithelial sheets into more complex three-dimensional structures, a process termed epithelial morphogenesis. Epithelial organ development is achieved through inductive interactions between different tissue types, typically between epithelial and mesenchymal tissues. Although the signaling pathways regulating epithelial-mesenchymal crosstalk have been largely identified, our understanding on how these signaling activities are translated into coordinated changes in cell behavior: proliferation, apoptosis, migration, or adhesion, is still rudimentary. Dissecting the details of organogenesis will be important for understanding the causes and developing cures when things go awry as seen in developmental disorders or in tumorigenesis, as well as for advancing methods for organ regeneration.

We use hair follicle and mammary gland as model organs, and a combination of mouse models and organ and cell culture methods to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of epithelial morphogenesis. We study the gene regulatory networks that operate during hair and mammary gland development, with focus on the Tnf/ectodysplasin/NF-κB and its downstream targets. We are particularly interested in how the numbers, patterns, and shapes of epithelial organs are determined.

PI: Marja Mikkola


Tel. +358 2941 59344
Fax. +358 2941 59366
e-mail: marja.mikkola-at-helsinki.fi

Developmental Biology Program
Institute of Biotechnology
P. O. Box 56
00014 University of Helsinki

Street address:
Viikinkaari 5, Biocenter 2 (5th floor)
00790 Helsinki

Institute of Biotechnology

Center of Excellence in Experimental and Computational Developmental Biology 
Center of Excellence in Experimental and Computational Developmental Biology