Research Summary

Senior Fellowship research summary

Skin is the outermost organ system, which protects internal organs from pathogens and prevents the loss of body fluids to the surroundings. This function of the skin is called as the barrier function. The skin has two main tissue components - the outer epidermis and the underlying dermis. The epidermal integrity is essential for the barrier function that the skin performs. Any perturbations in the epidermal architecture due to defects in cell adhesion and/or changes in cellular morphology- arising from perturbations in cell polarity or membrane trafficking- may compromise the barrier function. Our aim is to understand how the formation of cellular junctions, which are multi-protein complexes, is regulated during epidermal development and how the tissue and cell polarity is established in the vertebrate epidermis. To achieve this, we combine forward and reverse genetic approaches with imaging to identify and functionally characterise the molecular components involved in the maintenance of epidermal integrity in zebrafish. Our goal is to build a network of genes, which encode for regulatory components- such as cell polarity regulators, components of trafficking machinery and signalling components- rather than the structural components and are involved in the maintenance of epidermal integrity.