Research Groups > Cell Interactions and Cancer

“We are interested in understanding how cell-cell communication within the stem cell microenvironment controls their biology in health and disease, with an emphasis on tissue repair and cancer.”

To remain functional, adult organisms rely on intrinsic regenerative processes that maintain both correct cell types and numbers in healthy tissue, and restore damaged tissue after injury. In most tissues both types of adult regeneration depend on the presence of somatic stem and progenitor cells that generate new cells. The local microenvironment which progenitor cells are exposed to is critical to regulating their behaviour. Most stem cells reside within specialised ‘niches’ that provide them with the spatial and temporal cues required to coordinate self-renewal and differentiation. We are interested in understanding how cell-cell communication within the stem cell microenvironment controls their biology in health and disease, with an emphasis on tissue repair and cancer.

We focus on two regenerative processes: peripheral nerve repair and adult neurogenesis in the subventricular zone of the brain. Our research approach combines cell biology, imaging, siRNA screens, deep sequencing and biochemistry techniques in primary co-cultures and in vivo models. By understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate stem cell identity and function, we ultimately hope to identify novel therapeutic strategies for enhancing endogenous regeneration for the treatment of nervous system pathology.

schwann cells
Co-culture system of Schwann cells and fibroblasts that mimics their interaction in vivo in nerve wounds. In response to ephrin-B ligands on fibroblasts (red), EphB2+ Schwann cells (green) undergo cell sorting and collective migration to guide axonal regrowth in a Sox2-dependent manner.

neural stem cells
Neural stem cells (green) interact closely with blood vessels in the SVZ niche in vivo. This interaction can be modeled in vitro as shown below (purple endothelial cells induced to form blood vessel-like structures, green neural progenitor cells).

  Cell Interactions and Cancer
Group head

Simona Parrinello (Dr)

Telephone 38235
Group members

Melanie Clements (Dr)

Benjamin Krusche (Mr)

PhD student

Cristina Ottone (Dr)

Ariadne Withby

Admin contact

Lydia Lawson (Ms)

Telephone 38265
Contact details
Office Phone: +44 (0) 20 838 38235
Lab Phone: +44 (0) 20 838 38329
Selected publications
Parrinello, S., Napoli, I., Ribeiro, S., Digby, P. W. W., Fedorova, M., Parkinson, D. B., Doddrell, R. D., Nakayama, M., Adams, R. H., Lloyd, A. C. (2010). EphB signaling directs peripheral nerve regeneration through Sox2-dependent Schwann cell sorting. Cell 143, 145–155. Abstract

Parrinello, S., Noon, L. A., Harrisingh, M. C., Digby, P. W. W., Rosenberg, L. H., Cremona, C. A., Echave, P., Flanagan, A. M., Parada, L. F., Lloyd, A. C. (2008). NF1 loss disrupts Schwann cell-axonal interactions: a novel role for semaphorin 4F. Genes & Development 22, 3335–3348. Abstract

Parrinello, S., Samper, E., Krtolica, A., Goldstein, J., Melov, S., Campisi, J. (2003). Oxygen sensitivity severely limits the replicative lifespan of murine fibroblasts. Nature Cell Biology 5, 741–747. Abstract

Parrinello, S., Lloyd, A. C. (2009). Neurofibroma development in NF1-insights into tumour initiation. Trends in Cell Biology 19, 395–403. Abstract

Parrinello, S., Coppe, J.-P. P., Krtolica, A., Campisi, J. (2005). Stromal-epithelial interactions in aging and cancer: senescent fibroblasts alter epithelial cell differentiation. Journal of Cell Science 118, 485–496. Abstract

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