Project information
WNT-mediated signal relay in stem cells and oncogenesis - from basic biology to applications (WntsApp)


This project doesn't include Faculty of Medicine. It includes Faculty of Science. Official project website can be found on
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Project Identification
Project Period
8/2013 - 7/2017
Investor / Pogramme / Project type
European Union
MU Faculty or unit
Faculty of Science
Cooperating Organization
University of Cambridge
Universität Würzburg
Universiteit Utrecht
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
University Medical Center Utrecht
Karolinska Institutet

The ITN WntsApp is organized to achieve 3 key aims: (i) Provide a committed training programme for young researchers to bridge the gap between basic scientific knowledge and drug development, (ii) Centring research on a key cancer-signalling pathway, WNT signalling, to stimulate synergies and (iii) Strengthening the link between international partners and private enterprises to stimulate innovation and facilitate exploitation of results. We have recruited ten full partners from academia and industry from seven EU countries, providing a highly interactive research and training programme. Fellows get exposed to a wide range of activities in the private sector, including biotechnology and drug development, but also the publishing business. WntsApp fellows also profit from the activities of the SME PCDI, who are professionals in advising and supporting young graduates researchers.
The scientific focus will be on the WNT signalling pathway that mediates critical cell fate decisions and is strongly linked to cancer. The fellows will address the mechanisms that relay cellular WNT signals from the membrane to the cytosol and
nucleus, at the atomic, molecular and organismal level. The underlying molecular mechanisms provide attractive drug targets, particularly in regenerative medicine and cancer treatment. We will study and interfere with WNT signalling at various levels, focusing on conceptual advances regarding receptor specificity, allosteric effects, assembly and disassembly of complexes, WNT-regulated conformational changes, regulation of protein stability, role of molecular chaperones, proteinprotein
interactions, consequences for stem cell maintenance, mutation-induced tumourigenesis and the generation of high affinity agonists and antagonists that modulate receptor activity. The coherent class of students working on this
multidisciplinary theme will create synergisms, stimulate associated graduate schools and offer new opportunities for exploitation of results.


Total number of publications: 4

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