Research & Scholarship
My research focuses on understanding how cells adhere to one another during animal development. Embryonic and juvenile development is intricate and complex, and it requires coordinated changes in cell shape, changes in cell adherence to one another, and changes in physical tension on individual cells. I use the microscopic, non-parasitic nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model for skin development, or “epidermal morphogenesis.” By better understanding cell adhesion in such a simple system, we can better understand the changes that cells must undergo to allow for wound healing, embryonic development in humans, and even cancer metastasis – a process that requires that cells lose adhesion to each other. While our knowledge of cell adhesion has grown exponentially in the last few decades, there are still some very basic questions that need to be answered concerning the key players of cell adhesion. These questions include: how is barrier function maintained between cells during embryonic development, and how do microtubules help direct specific cellular movements in the embryo and early larva? I approach the study of cell adhesion from a classical genetics viewpoint, meaning students in the lab will learn a variety of genetic techniques that can easily translate to other fields of study in their future research.
Lucas, B., and J. Hardin. 2017. Mind the (sr)GAP – roles of Slit-Robo GAPs in neurons, brains and beyond. Journal of Cell Science. 130: 3965-3974.
Walck-Shannon, E., B. Lucas, I. Chin-Sang, D. Reiner, K. Kumfer, H. Cochran, W. Bothfeld, and J. Hardin. 2016. CDC-42 orients cell migration during epithelial intercalation in the Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis. PLOS Genetics. 12 (11).
Hall, S., C. Bone, K. Oshima, L. Zhang, M. McGraw, B. Lucas, R.G. Fehon, R.E. Ward IV. 2014. Macroglobulin complement-related encodes a protein required for septate junction organization and paracellular barrier function in Drosophila. Development. 141: 889-898.