Our laboratory primarily studies the regulation of cell-cell interactions, in particular with respect to the plasticity of cell position and shape within developing nervous system tissues. This plasticity can be created by the expression of polysialic acid at the cell surface, which serves to attenuate cell adhesions and thereby allow cell motility and the formation of new cell interactions, including synapses. Studies are also being carried out in adult animals with the intent of engineering embryonic-like plasticity into that environment and thus improving the prospects for repair of disease- or injury-induced defects. In the specific case of stem cell research and application, we are using expression of polysialic acid to improve the integration of the grafted cells into host tissue and thus their ability to give a better therapeutic result.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center