Lin Lab

University of Iowa

Cell migration is a fundamental process that plays critical roles in early embryonic development, as well as in proper organ function and homeostasis later in life. Beyond early development, cell migration is vital to processes such as wound healing, immune responses, and tissue regeneration. Aberrant cell migration contributes to many pathological conditions, including birth defects, immune dysfunction and cancer metastasis.

The regulation of cell migration involves highly orchestrated signaling networks. One set of signaling molecules that contributes to this kind of regulation is the family of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which act through heterotrimeric G proteins. Our laboratory is interested in understanding how G protein signaling regulates cell migration in vivo, using zebrafish as animal model. The fact that these animals develop externally and are translucent makes it possible to carry out high-resolution imaging in live animals (see the links for the cool movies and images). We also exploit the powerful embryological, genetic, pharmacological and cellular tools available for the zebrafish system. As many cell types utilize similar strategies for migration, and similar mechanisms for, signaling, under physiological and pathological conditions, our study will provide new insights into the mechanisms that underlie morphogenetic processes during development. Moreover, they will have broad implications for our understanding of cellular processes as they occur in the context of pathobiology.