David Q. Matus, PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
412 Life Sciences Building
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215
1998 B.A. Biology Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
2006 Ph.D. Zoology University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
2007-2013 Postdoctoral Researcher, Biology Department, Duke University, Durham, NC
Cell, developmental and evolutionary biological approaches to understanding cell invasion
We work at the crossroads of three major biological fields towards a goal of understanding the genetic programs that imbue certain specialized cells with the ability to cross a basement membrane. Cell invasion through the basement membrane occurs throughout the life history of many metazoans, during development, immune surveillance and is mis-regulated in certain pathogenic processes, most notably cancer metastasis.
Broadly, we are interested in identifying the transcription factors and their target genes or the gene regulatory network(s) (GRNs) that program invasive behavior. We have also identified a link between cell cycle regulation and multiple aspects of the morphogenetic events associated with cell invasion and the resulting formation of a basement membrane gap in our study system, nematode uterine-vulval attachment.
Uterine-vulval attachment during nematode larval development
To examine cell invasion and basement membrane gap formation we use a simple in vivo model system that utilizes the strengths of the roundworm nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model system: single cell visual analyses, a defined cell lineage and functional genomic approaches. During larval development a specialized somatic uterine cell, the anchor cell (AC), invades through the underlying basement membrane to contact the primary vulval precursor cells (VPCs), initiating the uterine-vulval connection that will allow adult animals to passage eggs to the external environment.
To dissect the GRNs programming invasive behavior we use a combination of high-resolution live cell imaging techniques and genetic/ genomic approaches.
We are also interested in understanding the evolutionary basis of AC invasion, and have begun studying the process of uterine-vulval attachment in other non-model nematodes. The advent of genome engineering methods and ever-lowering sequencing technologies provides us amenable approaches to begin to dissect the GRNs the program AC invasion across an evolutionary framework spanning hundreds of millions of years of nematode evolution