Research field: Cell junctional and tumor related proteins
Group leader: Prof. em. Dr. Frans van Roy
Frans Van Roy was the second director of the UGent and VIB DMBR until 2012. He retired in 2016.
For several years this research group has been focusing on the invasion and tumor suppressor roles of the cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, and on associated and related proteins. In a majority of aggressive epithelial tumor cells, the pivotal E-cadherin gene either bears inactivating mutations or is transcriptionally silenced. A third and intriguing possibility is the dysregulation of cadherin functionality at the level of its cytoplasmic anchoring via a variety of catenins to the cytoskeleton.
Numerous new structural and regulatory proteins were recently localized in the cell adhesion junctions, often in a cell-type and tissue-specific manner. Several of these proteins can function in both specific adhesion and signaling. Notable examples are delta-protocadherins and armadillo proteins such as beta-catenin and p120ctn. We aim at a thorough understanding and meaningful interpretation of the physiological functions and mutual interactions of these proteins, under both normal and pathological conditions. Moreover, we are scrutinizing recently discovered novel genes and proteins that presumably have an oncogenic or invasion stimulatory role.
Area of expertise
The E-cadherin-catenin complex:
Targeted ablation of