Welcome to the SOKOL laboratory

Department of Cell, Developmental and Regenerative Biology

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Wnt signaling and cell polarity in vertebrate embryonic development

We study how Wnt signaling pathways regulate cell fate determination and cell polarity in embryonic development. Our past experiments revealed an essential role for the Wnt pathway in vertebrate axis determination and uncovered its equally important function in morphogenetic movements during gastrulation and neurulation. More recently, we have been investigating cross-talk of apical-basal and planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins in vertebrate ectoderm, using Xenopus and mammalian progenitor models. We are now developing new technologies based on proximity biotinylation and

live imaging to understand the signaling mechanisms underlying apical constriction and neural tube closure in vertebrate embryos.  These studies aim to define how Wnt and PCP signaling pathways contribute to actomyosin dynamics in epithelial cells, and how PCP protein complexes segregate to opposite cell borders.  Other projects explore roles of centrosomes and cilia in neural crest and skin differentiation.


Our questions:

  • How is the top of the epithelial cell different from its bottom?
  • How does the front of the migrating cell differ from its back?
  • What mechanisms regulate asymmetric division and fate in stem cells?
  • How do secreted growth factors regulate cell polarity and cell shape?
  • What is a role for mechanotransduction in vertebrate embryos in vivo?

Contact us or inquire about research opportunities by writing to sergei.sokol@mssm.edu