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Barry M. Gumbiner, Ph.D.

(206) 884-5116

Lab Staff

Nam Gyun Kim
Alisha Mendonsa
Stella Cai
Matthew Clarkson
Barry M. Gumbiner, Ph.D.
Professor, Pediatrics and Center for Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine | Adjunct Professor, Biochemistry

We study how cadherins, catenins and associated proteins, and the intercellular junctions they form contribute to the 3-dimensional architecture and physiological functions of tissues and organs. They are important not only for tissue development and regeneration, but also for tissue maintenance and barrier function in numerous organs. We’re also interested in how alterations in their functions contribute to disease processes, including cancer and disrupted barrier functions in inflammation.  


A major effort is to understand how cadherin adhesive function at the cell surface is regulated to control morphogenesis, tumor cell invasion, and epithelial and endothelial barrier function. We’ve discovered allosteric regulation of cadherin activity in response to intracellular signals mediated by catenins. We’ve generated a novel class of monoclonal antibodies that activate E-cadherin as probes to understand this process; they are also being used examine the roles of cadherin regulation in a variety of developmental, physiological and pathological processes


Another major effort is to understand how cadherins signal into the cell to control growth and differentiation through regulation of both the Wnt-b-catenin pathway and the Hippo signaling pathway; the latter inhibits cell proliferation and participates in organ size control. E-cadherin-mediated contact inhibition of growth and mitogenic signaling by growth factors stimulate and antagonize the Hippo signaling pathway, respectively. We are elucidating the mechanisms underlying these reciprocal activities as well as investigating their roles in tissue growth in vivo.

Associated Research: