The Rosenblatt Lab studies both cell death and cell division and the roles that the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons play in both processes. Our lab is investigating if extrusion (a contraction that squeezes dying cells out of tissue) could drive cell death in order to control cell numbers.
Jody Rosenblatt will give a seminar on July 6th at 11.30 am in Lacassagne Amphitheatre
Epithelial cells work collectively together to form tight barriers around the organs they encase, yet they divide and die at some of the highest rates in the body. Epithelial cell death and division must be tightly balanced in order to maintain constant cell numbers or the barrier they form would rapidly vanish or become riddled with tumors. How is this balance maintained? Mechanical tension—stretch from too few cells or crowding from too many—inextricably links cell death and division, balancing the number of cells dividing with those dying. When epithelial cells are too sparse, stretch triggers some to divide. Alternatively, when epithelia become too crowded, some cells are extruded, which later die. Extrusion is a process my lab discovered where epithelia seamlessly squeeze out cells fated to die without disrupting its functional barrier. How do epithelial cells sense mechanical tension? Surprisingly, we found that both crowding-induced cell extrusion and stretch-induced cell division require the same single stretch-activated calcium channel, Piezo1. By disrupting the signaling controlling these mechanisms, we find that they are essential to maintaining proper epithelial cell densities. Moreover, misregulation of extrusion leads to common yet untreatable diseases, ranging from cancer to asthma. Understanding the root causes of these diseases reveals new approaches to actually treat these diseases, rather than merely manage their symptoms.