A vital issue in cell biology is how epithelial sheets provide a barrier while balancing cell growth and death, and withstand the stretching forces that sheets experience in vivo. Rosenblatt and colleagues demonstrated that mechanical stretching stimulates epithelial cell division and characterized the stretch-sensitive Piezo1 channel as well as the downstream signaling that triggers cell division. Continue reading → Maintaining Epithelial Barriers
The Rosenblatt Lab at Huntsman Cancer Institute studies cell death and division in epithelia. Cell turnover occurs at a high rate throughout the body, particularly in epithelia. In order to maintain constant cell numbers, the number of cells that die must match those that divide. If they do not, epithelia could lose their primary function as a barrier, as in asthma and colitis, or amass into carcinomas. We have found that both cell death and division are controlled by mechanical tensions–if epithelial cells become too dense, they extrude some cells that later die. If they become too sparse, stretch causes some cells to rapidly divide. Because these processes are critical for cell turnover, not surprisingly, we have found that their misregulation leads to tumor formation and initiation or barrier function diseases.