Research Projects
Integrin-Mediated Signaling in Cell Adhesion, Migration and Invasion

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Objective and Significance:

  1. To investigate the spatio-temporal integrin signaling in the formation of focal adhesion, podosome, and invadopodia
  2. To understand how microenvironment of extracellular matrix triggers differential adhesion signaling and cancer cell invasion
  3. To develop molecular biological approaches to suppress invadosome formation

Research Plan and Methodology:

We seek to understand the molecular payhway of integrin signaling in adhesion assembly, as well as adhesion disassembly. In particular, we will focus on the integrin-mediate signal transduction, such as FAK/Pyk2 in cancer invadosomes in matrix-force dependent manner. We will utilize high-resolution live-cell fluorescence microscopy and molecular biology approaches to investigate the spatio-temporal events associated with adhesion formation and turn over. Here are the selected research plans.

  1. To define the mechanism of invadosome formation. We will use RNAi knockdown and live-cell fluorescence microscopy approach to investigate the dynamical and functional roles of FAK/Pyk2 in benign focal adhesion to malignant invadosomes.
  2. To investigate how extracellular microenvironment mediates adhesion disassembly. We will study the internalization pathways of integrin heterodimers in various conditions of extracellular matrix setting, such as mobility, rigidity, and density. We will also examine and correlate integrin expression profile, internalization level, and invasion potential within various cancer cell lines.
  3. To examine the Rho GTPase regulation during the adhesion transformation. We will investigate the regulation of RhoA GAP and Cdc42 GEF during the cancer invadosome formation. We seek to understand and suppress invadosome formation by controlling Rho GTPase activities.

Professor CH Yu, School of Biomedical Sciences

My research team aims to decipher the molecular reorganisation and signal transduction at the cell-matrix adhesion. We provide four-year scholarship and are looking for one to two talented PhD students.

Laboratory Homepage

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.