Professor, Dermatology; Feinberg School of Medicine
Tumor Invasion, Metastasis & Angiogenesis
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Dr. Troyanovsky’s research focuses on cadherin, intercellular, adhesion, and signaling. Classic cadherins are critical proteins mediating cell-cell adhesion and various signaling pathways responsible for cellular proliferation, differentiation, and morphogenesis. Abnormalities in this system are causal factors in many pathologies, including cancer. The molecular mechanisms of cadherin-based adhesion, however, are largely unknown. How do cadherins establish the adhesion contact? How do they interact with the cytoskeleton? What are the signaling pathways they control? The laboratory’s work is centered around these questions. These studies revealed that strand-swap interaction between cadherins is a key adhesive bond in cadherin-based adhesion; that the formation of these bonds promotes cadherin lateral stacking; and that an ATP-dependent process disassembles the junction by reconfiguring its adhesive bonds. These discoveries completely change our way of thinking about cadherin adhesion: instead of a process relied on cadherin clustering by intracellular factors, it appears as a self-sufficient and directional process driven by formation and reconfiguration of the adhesive bonds. These findings have allowed the laboratory to begin exploring the complex signaling processes that are deeply integrated with the adhesive structural events. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of cadherin adhesion lays a critical foundation for new strategies in fighting cancer and other human diseases in which cell-cell communications are affected.