Helen McNeill

Larry J. Shapiro and Carol-Ann Uetake-Shapiro Professor, Developmental Biology

The overall goal of research in the McNeill lab is to understand how tissue growth and tissue organization are coordinately regulated during normal development, and how loss of this control leads to human disease.

We investigate how these processes are regulated using both Drosophila and mouse genetics for in vivo analysis, as well as tissue culture and organoid approaches. The lab has a long tradition of investigating how Fat cadherins function in Hippo pathway-regulated growth control, planar cell polarity (PCP) tissue organization and metabolism.  Fat cadherins are enormous cell adhesion molecules that bind via cadherin-cadherin interactions to another large cadherin called Dachsous (Ds). The Hippo pathway is a highly conserved signaling pathway that regulates proliferation and apoptosis via control of the activity of the transcriptional co-activators Yorkie/YAP. We use Drosophila as a genetically tractable organism to investigate the basic and conserved mechanisms of Fat function and the control of Hippo pathway activity. Our very recent work has uncovered a novel and exciting role for Fat cadherins in regeneration.