Dr. Kenneth Irvine is a Distiguished Professor in the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rutgers University. The Irvine lab is located within the Waksman Institute on the Busch campus. 

The lab is engaged in projects whose long-term goal is to define relationships between patterning and growth in developing and regenerating organs. Much of their research takes advantage of the powerful genetic, molecular, and cellular techniques available in Drosophila melanogaster, which facilitate both gene discovery and the analysis of gene function.

Recent Publications

Pan, Y, Heemskerk I, Ibar C, Shraiman BI, Irvine KD.  2016.  Differential growth triggers mechanical feedback that elevates Hippo signaling.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Abstract
Mechanical stress can influence cell proliferation in vitro, but whether it makes a significant contribution to growth control in vivo, and how it is modulated and experienced by cells within developing tissues, has remained unclear. Here we report that differential growth reduces cytoskeletal tension along cell junctions within faster-growing cells. We propose a theoretical model to explain the observed reduction of tension within faster-growing clones, supporting it by computer simulations based on a generalized vertex model. This reduced tension modulates a biomechanical Hippo pathway, decreasing recruitment of Ajuba LIM protein and the Hippo pathway kinase Warts, and decreasing the activity of the growth-promoting transcription factor Yorkie. These observations provide a specific mechanism for a mechanical feedback that contributes to evenly distributed growth, and we show that genetically suppressing mechanical feedback alters patterns of cell proliferation in the developing Drosophila wing. By providing experimental support for the induction of mechanical stress by differential growth, and a molecular mechanism linking this stress to the regulation of growth in developing organs, our results confirm and extend the mechanical feedback hypothesis.
Misra, JR, Irvine KD.  2016.  Vamana Couples Fat Signaling to the Hippo Pathway.. Developmental cell. 39(2):254-266. Abstract
The protocadherins Dachsous and Fat initiate a signaling pathway that controls growth and planar cell polarity by regulating the membrane localization of the atypical myosin Dachs. How Dachs is regulated by Fat signaling has remained unclear. Here we identify the vamana gene as playing a crucial role in regulating membrane localization of Dachs and in linking Fat and Dachsous to Dachs regulation. Vamana, an SH3-domain-containing protein, physically associates with and co-localizes with Dachs and promotes its membrane localization. Vamana also associates with the Dachsous intracellular domain and with a region of the Fat intracellular domain that is essential for controlling Hippo signaling and levels of Dachs. Epistasis experiments, structure-function analysis, and physical interaction experiments argue that Fat negatively regulates Dachs in a Vamana-dependent process. Our findings establish Vamana as a crucial component of the Dachsous-Fat pathway that transmits Fat signaling by regulating Dachs.
Kuta, A, Mao Y, Martin T, Ferreira de Sousa C, Whiting D, Zakaria S, Crespo-Enriquez I, Evans P, Balczerski B, Mankoo B et al..  2016.  Fat4-Dchs1 signalling controls cell proliferation in developing vertebrae.. Development (Cambridge, England). 143(13):2367-75. Abstract
The protocadherins Fat4 and Dchs1 act as a receptor-ligand pair to regulate many developmental processes in mice and humans, including development of the vertebrae. Based on conservation of function between Drosophila and mammals, Fat4-Dchs1 signalling has been proposed to regulate planar cell polarity (PCP) and activity of the Hippo effectors Yap and Taz, which regulate cell proliferation, survival and differentiation. There is strong evidence for Fat regulation of PCP in mammals but the link with the Hippo pathway is unclear. In Fat4(-/-) and Dchs1(-/-) mice, many vertebrae are split along the midline and fused across the anterior-posterior axis, suggesting that these defects might arise due to altered cell polarity and/or changes in cell proliferation/differentiation. We show that the somite and sclerotome are specified appropriately, the transcriptional network that drives early chondrogenesis is intact, and that cell polarity within the sclerotome is unperturbed. We find that the key defect in Fat4 and Dchs1 mutant mice is decreased proliferation in the early sclerotome. This results in fewer chondrogenic cells within the developing vertebral body, which fail to condense appropriately along the midline. Analysis of Fat4;Yap and Fat4;Taz double mutants, and expression of their transcriptional target Ctgf, indicates that Fat4-Dchs1 regulates vertebral development independently of Yap and Taz. Thus, we have identified a new pathway crucial for the development of the vertebrae and our data indicate that novel mechanisms of Fat4-Dchs1 signalling have evolved to control cell proliferation within the developing vertebrae.
Sun, S, Irvine KD.  2016.  Cellular Organization and Cytoskeletal Regulation of the Hippo Signaling Network.. Trends in cell biology. 26(9):694-704. Abstract
The Hippo signaling network integrates diverse upstream signals to control cell fate decisions and regulate organ growth. Recent studies have provided new insights into the cellular organization of Hippo signaling, its relationship to cell-cell junctions, and how the cytoskeleton modulates Hippo signaling. Cell-cell junctions serve as platforms for Hippo signaling by localizing scaffolding proteins that interact with core components of the pathway. Interactions of Hippo pathway components with cell-cell junctions and the cytoskeleton also suggest potential mechanisms for the regulation of the pathway by cell contact and cell polarity. As our understanding of the complexity of Hippo signaling increases, a future challenge will be to understand how the diverse inputs into the pathway are integrated and to define their respective contributions in vivo.