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Mark Peifer

Mark Peifer

  • Ph.D.
  • Cancer Cell Biology

  • Biology
  • UNC-Chapel Hill
  • peifer@unc.edu
  • 919-962-2272
  • 521 Fordham Hall
  • Link to CV or NIH biosketch

Area of Interest

Cell adhesion, cytoskeletal regulation and Wnt signaling in development and disease

 We work at the interface between cell and developmental biology and cancer cell biology, focusing on the epithelial tissues that form the basic architectural unit of our bodies and of those of other animals.  We explore how the machinery mediating cell adhesion, cytoskeletal regulation and Wnt signaling regulates cell fate and tissue architecture in development and disease.

Part of our lab explores how cell cell  adhesion and the cytoskeleton shape tissue architecture,and how alterations in them drive cancer metastasis.  Our challenge is to alter the current static model of cell adhesion to explain the remarkable cellular events of morphogenesis that shape the embryonic body plan. To do so, we are exploring the dynamic regulation of cell adhesion and the interactions between adhesion and the cytoskeleton.  These same processes are altered to allow metastatic cells to escape primary tumors and migrate to distant locations.  

The other part of our lab explores Wnt signaling.  Wnts are one of the five signal transduction pathways that shape virtually all cell fates and which are inappropriately activated in most solid tumors.  We explore novel biological roles for Wnt signaling during development, and seek to determine how the tumor suppressor APC regulates both Wnt signaling and the cytoskeleton in normal development and in human cancer.