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Walentek Lab

Self-Organization in Biological Systems - From Cell Signals to Regenerative Medicine

The Walentek lab studies the molecular mechanisms of cilia and mucociliary epithelia in development, regeneration and disease. Cilia are important as cellular antennae or can be motile to produce motion (e.g. sperm flagellum). The human respiratory system, the fallopian tube and the brain are lined by multiciliated cells (MCCs), which produce hundreds of motile cilia to generate extracellular fluid flows for particle transport. The epidermis of frog (Xenopus) tadpoles is also covered by a mucociliary epithelium, and like the airway, it provides an important first line of defense against pathogens for the organism. We are using Xenopus, mice and cultured cells in our research and are particularly interested to elucidate the interactions between cell signaling, gene regulation and morphogenesis of mucociliary epithelia. Through analysis at the cellular and tissue-wide level, we aim to understand how complex tissue formation and function are regulated in vivo. Our work provides insights into the logic of self-organization in biological systems as well as into the molecular mechanisms underlying chronic lung diseases and ciliopathies.

Our work is funded by:

Our lab is part of the following graduate school programs: