- Lecturer on the MRes course "Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine"
- Supervision of Postgraduates (PhD and MRes students)
- Supervision of Undergraduates
- PDR conduction
- Management of the 'Dermatological Sciences Journal Cub' and the 'Research in Progress' seminar series
- Venia legendi (PD), University of Bonn, Germany
- Habilitation (habil.) in Genetics, University of Bonn, Germany
- PhD in Human Biology (Dr. rer. physiol.), University of Marburg, Germany
- Diploma in Human Biology (major subjects: Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Immunology), University of Marburg, Germany
- PI, Biochemistry I, University of Cologne, Germany
- Assistant Professor, Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University of Bonn, Germany
- Postdoc, Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University of Bonn, Germany
- Postdoc, Institute of Genetics, University of Bonn, Germany
- The Physiological Society
- British Society for Investigative Dermatology (BSID)
- Deutscher Hochschulverband (DHV)
German, Spanish, French
I am interested in the function of keratin intermediate filaments in the epidermis. More than eight distinct keratins are expressed in the epidermis, tightly regulated during differentiation, wound healing and cancer formation. The specific function of variably composed intermediate filaments, consisting of different keratins however, is not known and is one of the major questions in this field of research. It is not yet clear e.g. why keratinocytes in the proliferating basal layer of the epidermis express filaments consisting of K5 and K14, whereas they switch to K1 and K10 as they differentiate and loose contact with the basement membrane. I found, that the loss of the suprabasal keratin K10 can be partially compensated by K5 and K14 persisting in suprabasal keratinocytes. Although the resulting intermediate filaments consisting of K1, K5 and K14 provided stability to the epidermis, tissue homoeostasis was disturbed and K10-deficient mice developed a thickened, hyperkeratotic skin. The observed thickening of the epidermis was due to an increased proliferation of cells in the basal layer involving increased MAP kinase signalling.
My group wants to establish, how differing intermediate filament compositions influence the keratinocyte response to physical stress and use K10-deficient keratinocytes as a model for our studies.
Keratins are the most prominent proteins of epidermal keratinocytes. Their major role is to build the intermediate filament system of this tisssue and to confer mechanical stability to the cells, and to the entire tissue by integrating the cytoskeletal networks of neighbouring cells via desmosomal contacts. Cells must constantly receive and adapt to different kinds of external mechanical stimuli. It has been shown, that the state of the cytoskeleton (prestress) is essential for the behaviour of a cell in the context of a tissue.
In the past, the major focus in the study of the involvement of the cytoskeleton in mechano-signaling was on the actin cytoskeleton. However, the intermediate filament system is an equivalently attractive candidate for a signal transducer as it interconnects the cells of a given tissue via desmosomes. The current focus of our research is to investigate the influence of the intermediate filament cytoskeleton composition on mechanical signal transduction.
Epidermal and keratinocyte response to mechanical stress.
Peer Reviewer for Funding bodies: British Skin Foundation (BSF), Medical Research Council (MRC), Sparks
Peer Reviewer for Journals: BMC Cell Biology, Experimental Dermatology, Archives of Dermatological Research, Integrative & Comparative Biology
German Research Foundation (DFG), The Psoriasis Association, North Eastern Skin Research Fund, Ichthyosis Support Group
Newcastle Health Care Charity/Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity, NorthEast England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI), The One NorthEast (ONE), Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Bonner Forum Biomedizin, Köln Fortune
epidermal stem cells, keratinocytes, intermediate filaments, keratins, mechanical signalling
CMB 3000 Research Projects
MSci Biomedical Sciences Research Projects
MRes in Medical & Molecular Biosciences: Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
PhD student supervision