Seminar with Jennifer Stow

Speaker: Professor Jennifer Stow, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, UQ

Title: Sticking together - the only way to eat your lunch and prevent cancer.

Date: Monday 31st July

Time: 3pm

Room 78-420, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus



Cells in epithelial layers - like the lining of the gut, kidney and skin - stick to each other through a series of cell junctions which stitch the cells together into a continuous sheet to separate your body from your lunch, your urine and the outside world. The adherens junctions are composed primarily of E-cadherin, a molecule that is exposed on the lateral surface of epithelial cells and which undergoes tight, calcium- dependent binding to an E-cadherin on the cell next door. Other molecules, such as catenins, bind to the tail of E-cadherin inside cells to modify its function and the whole molecular complex is anchored to the actin cytoskeleton providing the epithelial cell with rigidity and defining its polarity.

When epithelial cells are stuck to each other in this fashion they cannot divide, migrate, transform or become metastatic tumours. Findings from our lab and others show that cell-cell adhesion is not static but is always a very dynamic process, allowing adjacent cells to transiently unstick. E-cadherin and other junction molecules are continuously moved in and out of junctions. This allows the epithelial layer to be modified during development or in wound healing, etc. However, a permanent loss of E-cadherin-mediated adhesion is one of the hallmarks of an epithelium that has turned irretrievably into a metastatic cancer. Therefore understanding how cell-cell adhesion is maintained and regulated is crucial for understanding how epithelial layers work normally and for understanding and potentially preventing cancer formation.


For more details about Professor Stow's work, see

This is an invited lecture in the Complex Systems course

It will be followed by a disussion of complex systems modeling techniques for cell-cell adhesion.
World-class basic and applied inter-disciplinary research on questions fundamental to understanding, designing and managing complex systems
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