The Ridley Group
The Ridley group are investigating the mechanisms of cell migration, focusing on the roles of Rho GTPases and the cytoskeleton. Cell movement is driven by the cytoskeleton, principally by filaments made of actin molecules. Cells need to move during embryonic development to form tissues such as the brain and heart. In adults, cells also move in order to repair and replace damaged tissues, and to fight infections. For example, during infections leukocytes in the bloodstream have to cross blood vessel walls to get into the tissues. We study how leukocytes adhere to and migrate across endothelial cells, which line blood vessels. Cell migration also contributes to the development of human diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Cancer cells in tumours often become motile, invade surrounding tissues, and eventually spread to other sites in the body via the bloodstream. We are studying the intracellular signalling pathways regulating each step of this process of cancer metastasis. We use a wide variety of techniques in our research, including time-lapse and confocal microscopy, molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology. A major emphasis of our current research is to use RNAi to identify novel proteins involved in cancer cell migration and invasion.
Cancer cell crossing the endothelium (A PC3 prostate cancer cell (green) has induced endothelial cell retraction as part of its transmigration process across the endothelium. Endothelial cell-cell junctions are shown in purple (VE-cadherin and β-catenin)).
Our work is currently funded by Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and the National Institute for Health Research.