Professor Inke Nathke

FRSE

Professor

Cell and Developmental Biology, School of Life Sciences

Associate Dean for Professional Culture

School of Life Sciences

Inke Nathke
On this page

Contact

Email

i.s.nathke@dundee.ac.uk

Phone

+44 (0)1382 385821

Locations

Medical Sciences Institute

Biography

Professor Inke Näthke is Associate Dean for Professional Culture in the School of Life Sciences, a role she has held since 2016, when the position was first established. She was the first and only Associate Dean with this role in the University at the time. All other schools are now following this example and are recruiting senior staff into similar roles. Overall responsibilities are to enhance the Research Culture and work with others across the University to share best practice, oversee career development for all staff, lead on all aspects of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, and research integrity, act as Deputy for Dean of School. From March 2020 until December 2021, Inke was Interim Dean of the School of Life Sciences.

Inke is Professor of Epithelial Biology. She was awarded her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco in 1991 and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and Harvard Medical School. In 1998, Inke moved to Dundee and established her own research lab in the Division of Cell and Developmental Biology. She has acted as deputy head of division for two periods (2005 – 2010, 2015 – 2019).

Inke is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Current University Roles:

  • Chair, Research Governance and Policy Subcommittee, University of Dundee, December 2021 – present)
  • Chair, Research Integrity Group, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, 2016 – 2020, 2022– present - the research Integrity group in the school created processes for investigating integrity breaches, provides training, and handles allegations of misconduct. While Interim Dean, she had to relinquish this role to avoid conflict of interest.
  • Research Integrity Lead, University of Dundee, 2016 – 2020, 2022 – present – this group brings together all research integrity lead in all schools to share best practice and to support and help each other (relinquished while Interim Dean)
  • Chair, SLS Equality, Diversity & Inclusion committee, 2018 – present
  • Chair, School Research Ethics Committee (2016 – present)
  • Director, Pre-tenure mentoring programme, (2015 – present)
  • Member, Athena SWAN Steering and executive group, University of Dundee (2013 – present, Chair since October 2021)

Current External Roles:

  • Trustee, UK RIO (2022 – present) – the trustees provide the formal governance of UK RIO, an “independent charity, that offers support to the public, researchers, and organisations to further good practice in academic, scientific and medical research”
  • Co-Chair & founding member, Scottish Research Integrity Network (2019 – present) – the network combines most institutions in Scotland. It meets regularly to share best practice, training, and discuss emerging topics.  It also created a network of colleagues willing to help with advice to other institutions.
  • Member, EPSRC Panel of Experts, (2016 – present)

Research

Morphogenesis in development and tissue maintenance requires an intricate balance between cell-cell interactions, cell-proliferation, cell migration and differentiation. Loss of the co-ordination between these processes prohibits proper development and is also involved in tumour formation. The long-term goal of research in my laboratory is to understand how cellular adhesion, migration, and cell division are regulated in concert during development and differentiation and how changes in these processes contribute to tumour formation.

See Figure 1 below: This Figure shows a PTK cell in early mitosis stained for APC protein (red), the kinetochore marker Crest (green), DNA (blue), and tubulin (magenta). APC localises to the outside of the kinetochore where tubulin is attached

My particular focus is the adenomatous polyposis coli protein, a large cytoplasmic protein that has been implicated in a variety of basic cellular processes including cell migration, cell adhesion, and proliferation. APC binds to beta-catenin and regulates its intracellular concentration. Beta-catenin is an important mediator of cell adhesion and also plays a role in regulating the activity of specific transcription factors. APC also interacts directly and indirectly with cytoskeletal proteins and regulates their stability. Its multi-functional nature places APC at the interface between regulation of cellular architecture and differentiation programs and this may explain the high penetrance of APC mutations, particularly in the intestinal tract: APC mutations constitute an extremely early stage of inherited as well as sporadic colon cancer. In addition, patients with somatic deletions in one of the APC alleles, have an increased risk for developing brain tumours and other epithelial abnormalities.

See Figure 2 below: The image shows whole mount mouse intestinal tissue that was stained with phalloidin and DAPI to visualise F-actin and DNA. F-actin concentrates mostly in the brush border of the apical surface particularly in differentiated enterocytes in the upper part of villi that face the gut lumen and are seen here. This type of detailed image allows correlations between changes in the overall morphology of intestinal and colonic tissue with specific mutations.

The aim of work in my laboratory is to determine the molecular mechanisms that govern the role of the APC protein in cell migration, adhesion and division and includes investigating the relationship between different protein interactions of APC in vivo. The experimental approaches we use include whole tissue, cultured cells, in vitro assays combined with cellular and molecular biology techniques as well as high-resolution fluorescence microscopy.

View full research profile and publications

Teaching

Lectures:

  • Cell & Developmental Biology 3rd, 4th and Master’s year
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Ethics in Research

Stories

Research interests

From molecules to tissue architecture

Awards

Award Year
Personal Fellowships / Cancer Research UK Senior Cancer Research Fellowship 2004
International Science Prizes awarded since 1990 / The Women in Cell Biology Junior Award, American Society for Cell Biology 2004