Esther Verheyen

Molecular Biology & Biochemistry


In the Verheyen lab we use molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to understand organismal growth and patterning. Specifically, we are interested in how cells control their growth and how certain tissues regulate their pattern formation. To do this, we use Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, as a genetic model organism.

Our studies of Drosophila development allow us to ask questions about how cells respond to cues from neighboring cells. We have focused our efforts on two protein kinases that regulate cellular processes. These kinases, Nemo/Nlk and Hipk, both act during many stages of development and are essential for organismal survival. They exert their effect through regulation of key evolutionarily conserved signal transduction pathways, including those implicated in causing cancer when improperly regulated. Our goal is to gain an understanding of the mechanisms used by cells to ensure properly regulated growth and tissue formation.