Ilaria Rebay, Ph.D.

Research Summary

Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Signal Transduction;
Transcriptional Regulatory Circuitries in Development and Disease


My laboratory works at the interface between signal transduction and developmental biology. The long-term goal of our research is to understand how complex developmental decisions are controlled in time and space by multiple signaling pathways.

Specifically, we seek to elucidate the conserved molecular circuitries that link and coordinate signaling modules by first to identifying the individual genes comprising the regulatory networks, and then unraveling the complex functional relationships between the components at a mechanistic level of detail in order to determine the critical nodes where information is integrated. Drosophila, and in particular the fly eye, provides an unparalleled model tissue in which to study the mechanisms of signal integration both because of its experimental tractability and because a complex interplay between multiple signaling pathways regulates many aspects of its development.

Furthermore, because developmental signaling mechanisms have all been highly conserved in evolution, our work elucidating the molecular circuitries used in Drosophila directly advances understanding of how cell fates are designated and maintained in all animals, and why misregulation results in cancer and disease in humans. Thus our current and long-term approach involves combining genetic, genomic, cell biological, biochemical, proteomic and computational methodologies to investigate how signal transduction cascades converge on nuclear transcription factor networks to direct cell proliferation, fate specification, differentiation and survival during retinal and embryonic development.