Undergraduation: B. Tech. (Biotechnology) from SMVU, Katra
My interest lies in understanding the mechanisms of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) using the highly genetically tractable Drosophila model. Cancers of flattened epithelial cells or squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs)—seen largely in the skin, esophagus and lungs and, partly in the urinary bladder, prostate and cervix—are generally highly aggressive in nature. Each SCC type appears to present its unique set of oncogenic lesions and, thus, apparently do not present common principles of their origins. A general principle of SCC genesis and progression therefore is missing in the field of squamous cancer research. However, we think, like rest of the epithelial cancers (carcinomas), genesis of SCCs, too, are likely to be causally linked to the loss of epithelial apico-basal polarity, besides deregulation of their organ-specific developmental programs. We are investigating these yet unresolved questions using the Drosophila male accessory glands (MAG) as our model. Drosophila MAGs are functionally equivalent to the mammalian prostate and secrete a cocktail of peptides and other molecules necessary for reproductive success of the males. MAG epithelial cells are exclusively binucleate, squamous and quiescent – growing by endocycles without cell division. The epithelium of the MAG offers a feasible system for polarity-disrupted SCC modelling in the fly. Besides, quiescence being a general feature of squamous epithelium, we are exploring the specific developmental programs driving quiescence in the MAG that could play a crucial role in driving MAG SCCs.