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Katja Brueckner Ph.D.

The Brückner lab uses the genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster to address questions relevant for mammalian development, tissue homeostasis and human disease.

Katja Brueckner Ph.D.

The Brückner lab uses the genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster to address questions relevant for mammalian development, tissue homeostasis and human disease.

(1) Cleft palate and metastasis of oral cancers are two major problems in oral health that are caused by the deregulation of the processes of epithelial plasticity (EP) or epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In many cases of EP and EMT, Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) or Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) cooperate with Akt signaling, but the molecular basis remains incompletely understood. Based on an RNAi screen, expression profiling and ChIP analyses in a cell-based Drosophila model, we determine the mechanism of cooperation between BMP and Akt signaling, for which we particularly focus on the differential binding of transcriptional targets.

(2) Cell proliferation, survival and differentiation are commonly known to be regulated by stereotyped developmental programs and physiological feedback mechanisms. However, far less is understood how extrinsic sensory stimuli modulate the signaling and responses of cells and tissues, representing a missing link in animal development and tissue homeostasis. To address this problem, we use a simple Drosophila model for niche support by the PNS, which focuses of the hematopoietic system as a target tissue. The model takes advantage of the hematopoietic pockets (HPs) in the body wall of the optically transparent Drosophila larva, where blood cells (hemocytes) reside in direct physical contact with segmentally repeated sensory PNS clusters and functionally rely on the PNS. Our lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which constitutive and neuronal activity-dependent PNS ‘circuits’ regulate hematopoiesis and blood cell homeostasis.

Selected Publications:

Brückner K, Perez L, Clausen H, Cohen S. (2000) Glycosyltransferase activity of Fringe modulates Notch-Delta interactions. Nature, 406(6794):411-5

Brückner, K., Kockel, L., Duchek, P., Luque, C. M., Rørth, P., and Perrimon, N. (2004). The PDGF/VEGF Receptor controls blood cell survival in Drosophila. Dev Cell 7(1):73-84.

Kockel, L, Kerr, K, Melnick, M, Brückner K, Hebrok M, Perrimon, N. (2010). Dynamic switch of negative feedback regulation in Drosophila Akt-TOR signaling. PLoS Genetics, 6(6):e1000990. PMID: 20585550

Makhijani K, Alexander B, Tanaka T, Rulifson E, and Brückner K. (2011) The peripheral nervous system supports blood cell homing and survival in the Drosophila larva. Development 138 (24): 5379-5391. PMID: 22071105

Brückner K. (2011). Blood cells need glia, too: A new role for the nervous system in the bone marrow niche. Cell Stem Cell 9(6): 493-495. PMID: 22136920

Kelsey M, Luo X, Brückner K, Jasper H. (2012) Schnurri regulates hemocyte function to promote tissue recovery after DNA damage. J Cell Sci 125 (6):1393-400. PMID: 22275438

Makhijani K and Brückner K. (2012) Of blood cells and the nervous system: hematopoiesis in the Drosophila larva. Fly 6(4). PMID: 23022764.

Xu J, Liu J, Wang H, Oses-Prieto J, Makhijani K, Katsuno Y, Pei M, Yan L, Zheng YG, Burlingame A, Brückner K, Derynck R. (2013). Arginine methylation initiates BMP-induced Smad signaling. Molecular Cell 51(1): 5-19. PMID: 23747011