Ceol Laboratory at UMass Medical School

Melanoma genetics and genomics

It is well established that cancers are caused by genetic abnormalities. In solid tumors these causative genetic defects are present in a complex background of genetic changes that arose incidentally during tumor formation. We use cross-species comparisons and screening approaches with a conserved zebrafish melanoma model to define which of the myriad genetic changes are relevant to tumor progression.
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Melanoma gene function

Candidate melanoma genes are rigorously evaluated in vivo and in vitro. In these studies many stages of melanoma progression are assessed, as is a gene's role in melanocyte development. Studies in cultured cells are important in understanding the cellular and biochemical processes affected by defects in these genes.
Melanocyte stem cells

Tissue-specific stem cells maintain organs in adult organisms, and we study the generation and function of tissue-specific stem cells through the lens of the melanocyte. Melanocytes are maintained in the skin by dedicated melanocyte stem cells, which are derived from the neural crest during embryonic development. Using targeted cell ablation strategies, lineage tracing and transplantation studies, we have identified cutaneous melanocyte stem cells in zebrafish. A major goal is to understand how these stem cells are functionally related to the cells that give rise to and maintain melanomas.
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