We study the molecular logic of adhesion GPCRs in health and disease.
We investigate molecular actors that belong to the class of adhesion-type G protein-coupled receptors. These molecules form a large group of surface receptors that constitute natural chimeras between an extracellular adhesion moiety and a transmembrane metabotropic signalling unit.
We have discovered that specific adhesion GPCRs control developmental processes such as planar cell polarity and cell migration, and have contributed to the understanding how adhesion and signalling is functionally combined within these mysterious surface receptors.
Recently we have defined adhesion GPCRs as mechanoreceptors suggesting a novel scientific angle to study and understand their physiological profiles in a multitude of tissues and cell types including neurons, glia, muscle, vasculature and the heart.
We are also harnessing our knowledge to understand how adhesion GPCR dysfunction results in disease with focus on cancers and neuropsychiatric disorders. To this end we closely collaborate with clinician scientists and human geneticists to identify adhesion GPCR gene variants that cause human ailments.
We study these phenomena using the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and the the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans and employ their vast genetic, molecular biological, imaging and functional toolkits. This is complemented by in vitro and in silico approaches encompassing molecular modifications through genetic code expansion and bioorthogonal click chemistry, pharmacological and cell biological assays, super-resolution and atomic force microscopy, structural biology, and molecular dynamics simulations.