Computational systems biology of Wnt/cell adhesion signalling in colon cancer (Masters option available)

Computational systems biology of Wnt/cell adhesion signalling in colon cancer (Masters option available)

Project details

Wnt/ß-Catenin signalling regulates intestinal cell proliferation, differentiation and homeostasis. Wnt signalling has attracted considerable attention, as 90 per cent of colorectal cancers have mutations in either of two Wnt signaling genes: APC or β-catenin (Kinzler, Cell 1996 87, 159-170). 

Quantitative knowledge of protein concentrations and the dynamics of the Wnt/ß-catenin pathway in colon cells is limited, restricting a systems biology understanding of the disease. This signalling data needs to go beyond qualitative descriptions of the pathway towards an integrated systems understanding. 

This project will quantitate the signalling dynamics of Wnt signalling and cell-cell adhesion proteins using confocal microscopy and biochemical assays of colorectal cell lines and colon epithelial tissue cultures (Tan, BMC Sys. Biol. 2014 8, 44). This data will be used for development of computational pathway models. 


About our research group

Our laboratory is introducing a computational systems biology approach to assess the complex behaviours of the Wnt signalling pathways to progress a quantitative perspective of colon biology and colon cancer progression. We use colon crypt cultures, as well as quantitative imaging and modelling techniques, to build computational models for human colon cells and to coordinate Wnt signalling experiments, models and clinical therapeutics (Tan, BMC Sys. Biol. 2014 8, 44; Tan, PLoS ONE 2012 7, e31882). 

An integrated model of Wnt signalling in colon cells and the discovery of new molecular targets to inhibit Wnt signalling using this approach will be an important step toward gaining insights into colon cancer biology. The computational models will improve opportunities to identify drugs which could target colorectal cancer.



Dr Chin Wee Tan using a microscope
Chin Wee
Structural Biology division

Project Type:

Researchers using a microscope

Our research into bowel development has suggested a new mechanism for how bowel cancer starts.