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Sara Stahley, PhD

Sara Stahley, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology
Assistant Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Scientific Program:Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis
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Research Interests

The lab of Dr. Sara Stahley broadly studies how cells interact with one another to regulate development and tissue organization. More specifically, the lab studies the cell-cell interactions that drive collective cell behaviors. This coordination between neighboring cells, essential for embryonic development and tissue patterning, is regulated by the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway. An excellent example of PCP, or collective polarization along a tissue plane, is the ordered alignment of body hairs across the mammalian skin along the anterior-posterior body access.

A hallmark of PCP is the polarized, asymmetric localization of core PCP proteins at cell junctions, which is driven by intercellular interactions of cadherin family member Celsr. Major efforts in the lab seek to understand the mechanisms that regulate Celsr-mediated adhesion and PCP asymmetry, and how these functions are perturbed in disease. Toward these efforts, the lab utilizes the mammalian skin as a model system, along with cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and advanced imaging approaches.

Overall, the Stahley lab aims to provide key insights into the mechanisms that coordinate PCP and how epithelial junction organization at the molecular level is regulated during development, epidermal homeostasis and human disease. 

  • Desmosomes
  • Proteins
  • Pemphigus
  • Desmoglein 3
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Microscopy
  • Cadherins
  • Desmogleins
  • Mutation
  • Cell Polarity
  • Keratinocytes
  • Adhesives

Recent Publications


COSEM Project Team 2023, 'Architecture and dynamics of a desmosome–endoplasmic reticulum complex', Nature Cell Biology, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 823-835.


Stahley, SN, Basta, LP, Sharan, R & Devenport, D 2021, 'Celsr1 adhesive interactions mediate the asymmetric organization of planar polarity complexes', eLife, vol. 10, e62097, pp. 1-26.


Lewis, JD, Caldara, AL, Zimmer, SE, Stahley, SN, Seybold, A, Strong, NL, Frangakis, AS, Levental, I, Wahl, JK, Mattheyses, AL, Sasaki, T, Nakabayashi, K, Hata, K, Matsubara, Y, Ishida-Yamamoto, A, Amagai, M, Kubo, A & Kowalczyk, AP 2019, 'The desmosome is a mesoscale lipid raft–like membrane domain', Molecular biology of the cell, vol. 30, no. 12, pp. 1390-1405.