The Andrea Page McCaw laboratory studies tissue remodeling in development and wound healing. Tissue remodeling requires coordination between the cells and extracellular matrix that comprise tissues. The matrix metalloproteinases, a family of extracellular proteases, are poised to mediate this coordination as they both cleave ECM components and also process signaling molecules. Although there are 24 partially redundant MMPs in mouse, there are only two in Drosophila, and this simplicity allows a genetic analysis of MMP function not possible in vertebrates.
Studies from the Page-McCaw lab have demonstrated that MMPs are required for coordinating cell and ECM elongation in post-embryonic organ growth, for the dramatic changes in body plan accompanying metamorphosis, for tissue histolysis and oogenesis, and for nervous system elaboration. Lab members are currently investigating how MMPs promote epidermal wound healing, a physiological process that recapitulates many aspects of developmental tissue remodeling including ECM modification, repair, and cell signaling.