(PhD, MSc, BSc)
Tel: +65 6516 7973
Office: MD10 #04-01T
Our research uses the fruit fly Drosophila genetics to study the signal transduction pathways and redox signaling in stem cell behavior and cancer regulation, and to study nanotoxicity. Genetic, genomic, molecular and cell biological techniques are combined to achieve a systems-level understanding of these complex processes.
Stem cells have unique property of producing multiple types of specialized cells that can regenerate damaged tissues throughout the lifetime of an individual. However, the choice between self-renewal and differentiation must be tightly regulated as increasing the stem cell pool can provide a condition for oncogenesis, suggesting that cancer may be a stem cell disorder and thus understanding molecular mechanisms governing normal stem cell behavior is important to gain insights into cancer biology. We have found that the signal transduction pathways such as JAK/STAT (Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription) function to maintain the homeostasis of germline stem cells in the Drosophila testis. Furthermore, we have shown that redox signaling plays key roles in the regulation of germline stem cell maintenance by either promoting their self-renewal or differentiation. We are currently exploring whether reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced effectors can serve as molecular targets for the development of redox-modulating agents to treat mouse leukemic stem cells.
Another aspect of our research focuses on the development of a Drosophila model as an unique platform to study nanoparticle-induced cyto- and genotoxicity. The increasing application of nanomaterials in biomedical sciences and nano-consumer products has made them ever present in our lives. However, constant exposure to these nanomaterials has raised concerns regarding their adverse side effects on human health, signifying the importance of nanotoxicity studies. Many nanotoxicology studies are often limited to in vitro models, as in vivo models are expensive and difficult to carry out and often raise ethical concerns. Thus, it is still insufficient to address important issues such as what are the long-term adverse effects of nanomaterial exposure and what is the exact molecular mechanism underlying nanomaterial-mediate toxicity in an organism level. We have developed a Drosophila model to study nanotoxicity in vivo that uses various genetic tools and living body organs.