Sonnen Lab

Signalling Dynamics in Tissue Biology

What we are interested in

Cellular processes have to be tightly coordinated during development of multicellular organisms. These processes include for instance cell proliferation, differentiation, migration or death. In adults, tissue turn-over has to be controlled in similar ways to prevent the occurrence of diseases such as cancer.

Via signalling pathways, cells communicate with each other to mediate this control. Signalling dynamics – the change of a signal over time – ensure this communication to be efficient and accurate. Interestingly, new technologies and in vitro model systems now allow us to study the function and mechanism of dynamic signal encoding in multicellular systems.

(Movie shows a segmenting mouse embryo expressing a dynamic signalling reporter.)

Signaling dynamics
Principle of dynamic signal encoding. (Image adapted from Sonnen et al. 2014.)
Kymograph signaling waves

What we do

The Sonnen lab studies how biological information is robustly transmitted via signalling dynamics in multicellular systems. We use two model systems: (1) mouse somitogenesis as model of development and (2) the small intestine as model of tissue homeostasis.

We apply technologies to perturb and quantitatively analyse the dynamics of signalling pathways, such as microfluidics and fluorescence real-time imaging. In addition, we complement those tools with biochemical and cell biological techniques to unravel the mechanism of dynamic signal encoding at the molecular level.