The development of multicellular organisms is governed by cell-cell communication. During all stages of animal development, cells influence each other's fate and behavior by sending and receiving extracellular signals. Despite the countless and diverse instances of cell signaling, animals use a surprisingly small repertoire of signaling molecules. One of the most remarkable discoveries of the past decade is the finding that members of the Hedgehog (Hh), Wnt, TGFb and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) families of secreted peptides account for innumerable cases of embryonic cell communication events. Our goal is to understand how these signaling proteins function to control growth and pattern during animal development.
The components of these signaling systems, as well as their molecular interactions, are conserved throughout multicellular organisms. Thus our studies contribute to the understanding of general developmental mechanisms as well as to our understanding of how the signaling pathways used for ligands of the Hh, Wnt, TGFb, and TNF families operate in other organisms during development and disease.
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