Faculty Summaries
Alana O'Reilly, PhD
Alana O'Reilly, PhD
Assistant Professor
Alana.OReilly@fccc.edu
Office Phone: 215-214-1653
Lab Phone: 215-214-3219
Fax: 215-728-3574
Office: R343
Lab: R354
Overview of Research Interests

The promise of stem cell research is two-fold.  On one hand, stem cell replacement therapies may provide cures for diverse group of disorders, including cancer, diabetes, and traumatic injury.  On the other hand, the identification of cancer cells with self-renewing properties that promote tumor growth and evade conventional anti-cancer therapies may lead to the development of potent new approaches to cancer treatment.  Substantial progress has been made in the development of in vitro technologies that allow stem cells grow in culture and differentiate into specific cell types.  Far less progress has been made in identifying stem cells in situ and their mechanisms of regulation in functioning adult tissues. 

Our goal is to understand the mechanisms that control epithelial stem cell function in vivo.  Since identifying novel signals that regulate stem cell function is technically challenging in mammalian tissues, we are focusing on Drosophila ovarian Follicular epithelium Stem Cells (FSCs) as a model system for this analysis.  In this system, epithelial stem cells can be visualized directly in vivo.   Moreover, genetic mutational analysis allows us to pinpoint functional roles for specific genes in the cellular events required for stem cell commitment and self-renewal.  The striking conservation of stem cell control signals in mammals and flies suggests that novel stem cell regulatory mechanisms identified in the fly system will provide insight into epithelial stem cell control in normal mammalian tissue and in cancer.

Description of research projects
Selected Publications
  1. Hartman TR, Strochlic TI, Ji Y, Zinshteyn, D, O’Reilly AM. Diet controls Drosophila follicle stem cell proliferation via Hedgehog sequestration and release. J Cell Biol. 2013;201:741-57. PubMed
  2. Hartman TM, Zinshteyn D, Schofield HK, Nicolas E, Okada A, O’Reilly AM. Drosophila Boi limits hedgehog levels to suppress follicle stem cell proliferation. J Cell Biol. 2010;191:943-952. PubMed
  3. O’Reilly AM, Lee H-H, Simon MA. Integrins control the positioning and proliferation of Follicle Stem Cells in the Drosophila ovary. J Cell Biol. 2008;182(4):801-815. Featured article and subject of Biobytes podcast, August 25, 2008. PubMed
  4. O’Reilly AM, Ballew AC, Miyazawa B, Stocker H, Hafen E, Simon MA. CSK differentially regulates Src64 during distinct morphological events in Drosophila germ cells. Development 2006;133:2627-2638. PubMed
  5. O’Reilly AM, Pluskey S, Shoelson SE, Neel BG. Activated mutants of SHP-2 preferentially induce elongation of Xenopus animal caps. Mol Cell Biol. 2000;20:299-311. PubMed
  6. O’Reilly AM, Neel BG. Structural determinants of SHP-2 function and specificity in Xenopus mesoderm induction. Mol Cell Biol. 1998;18:161-177. PubMed
  7. Van Vactor D, O’Reilly AM, Neel BG. Genetic analysis of protein tyrosine phosphatases. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1998;8:112-126. PubMed
All publications