University of Dundee

Professor Inke Nathke

From molecules to tissue architecture
Professor of Epithelial Biology and Cancer, Deputy Head of the Division of Cell & Developmental Biology
College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee
Full Telephone: 
+44 (0) 1382 385821, int ext 85821


This Figure shows a PTK cell in early mitosis stained for APC protein (red), the Morphogenesis in development and tissue maintenance requires an intricate balance between cell-cell interactions, cell-proliferation, cell migration and differentiation. Loss of the co-ordination between these processes prohibits proper development and is also involved in tumour formation. The long-term goal of research in my laboratory is to understand how cellular adhesion, migration, and cell division are regulated in concert during development and differentiation and how changes in these processes contribute to tumour formation.

The image shows whole mount mouse intestinal tissue that was stained with phallo My particular focus is the adenomatous polyposis coli protein, a large cytoplasmic protein that has been implicated in a variety of basic cellular processes including cell migration, cell adhesion, and proliferation. APC binds to beta-catenin and regulates its intracellular concentration. Beta-catenin is an important mediator of cell adhesion and also plays a role in regulating the activity of specific transcription factors. APC also interacts directly and indirectly with cytoskeletal proteins and regulates their stability. Its multi-functional nature places APC at the interface between regulation of cellular architecture and differentiation programs and this may explain the high penetrance of APC mutations, particularly in the intestinal tract: APC mutations constitute an extremely early stage of inherited as well as sporadic colon cancer. In addition, patients with somatic deletions in one of the APC alleles, have an increased risk for developing brain tumours and other epithelial abnormalities.

The aim of work in my laboratory is to determine the molecular mechanisms that govern the role of the APC protein in cell migration, adhesion and division and includes investigating the relationship between different protein interactions of APC in vivo. The experimental approaches we use include whole tissue, cultured cells, in vitro assays combined with cellular and molecular biology techniques as well as high-resolution fluorescence microscopy.


Gupta, K. K., Alberico, E. O., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2014). "Promoting microtubule assembly: A hypothesis for the functional significance of the +TIP network." Bioessays 36(9): 818-826.

Trani, D., Nelson, S. A., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2014). "High-energy particle-induced tumorigenesis throughout the gastrointestinal tract." Radiat Res 181(2): 162-171.

Dunn, S. J., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2013). "Computational models reveal a passive mechanism for cell migration in the crypt." PLoS One 8(11): e80516.

Fatehullah, A., Appleton, P. L., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2013). "Cell and tissue polarity in the intestinal tract during tumourigenesis: cells still know the right way up, but tissue organization is lost." Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 368(1629): 20130014.

Dikovskaya, D., Khoudoli, G., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2012). "The adenomatous polyposis coli protein contributes to normal compaction of mitotic chromatin." PLoS One 7(6): e38102.

Klotz, D. M., Nelson, S. A., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2012). "The microtubule poison vinorelbine kills cells independently of mitotic arrest and targets cells lacking the APC tumour suppressor more effectively." J Cell Sci 125(Pt 4): 887-895.

Nelson, S. A., Li, Z., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2012). "Tumorigenic fragments of APC cause dominant defects in directional cell migration in multiple model systems." Dis Model Mech 5(6): 940-947.

Dikovskaya, D., Li, Z., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2010). "Microtubule assembly by the Apc protein is regulated by importin-beta--RanGTP." J Cell Sci 123(Pt 5): 736-746.

Newton, I. P., Kenneth, N. S., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2010). "Adenomatous polyposis coli and hypoxia-inducible factor-1{alpha} have an antagonistic connection." Mol Biol Cell 21(21): 3630-3638.

Quyn, A. J., Appleton, P. L., Näthke, I. S., et al. (2010). "Spindle orientation bias in gut epithelial stem cell compartments is lost in precancerous tissue." Cell Stem Cell 6(2): 175-181.