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Epithelia constitute the surfaces and lining of our bodies and provide a protective envelope against external environment but also regulate water, nutrient absorption and glandular secretions.
Although epithelia can be multilayered (stratified) or single-layered (simple) they both need to constantly replace damaged or dead cells during the life. Adult stem cells are responsible for this process of tissue homeostasis critical for the maintenance of the tissue. At certain location of the body, transition zone lies between two types of epithelium. These transition zones are found in the eye, oesophagus, stomach, ovary, cervix and anus. In human, these junctions are highly susceptible to tumor formation and the interest of my laboratory is to identify the underlying molecular and cellular basis for this tumor susceptibility. We are investigating the intrinsic properties of these transitional epithelial cells and their interactions with the neighboring cells. We hypothesize that cells within this region are intrinsically more prone to transformation or alternatively, that the environment is permissive for transformed cells.