The research activities in the Wodarz lab focus on three main topics:
- Molecular control of cell polarity in epithelia and stem cells. We are interested in the molecules that link adherens junctions with the cytoskeleton and are required for the establishment of apical-basal cell polarity. Intriguingly, a subset of these molecules is also involved in the polarization and asymmetric division of stem cells.
- Identification of stemness factors in somatic and germ line stem cells. By a combination of genetics, cell isolation by FACS sorting, next generation RNA sequencing (RNAseq) and functional in vivo assays we aim to identify genes that are required for maintenance of the unique properties of stem cells.
- Functional characterization of Wnt coreceptors in Drosophila. We have generated mutations in the Wnt coreceptors Off-track, Off-track2 and Ror and are currently analyzing their developmental function and the signaling pathways downstream of these receptors.
The model organism of our research is mainly the fruit fly Drosophila, as it is easily accessible to genetic manipulation and is very well suited for cell biological analyses using high-resolution light microscopy.