Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Epithelial Cell Biology Laboratory


A/Prof. Pritinder Kaur

Laboratory:Epithelial Cell Biology Laboratory
Location:CHIRI, Curtin University


Whole mount neonatal human skin epidermis reconstructed by confocal microscopy sectioning after staining for the basal layer marker K14 (green), mitotic cells (pink) and nuclei (blue, DAPI) revealing undulating rete ridges and placement of mitotic cells.

Area of Expertise

The main goal of our research work is to find ways to improve ex-vivo expansion of autologous skin cells for their use in patients that have suffered extensive skin loss through disease, or injury such as burns victims. A second area of research seeks to understand mechanisms underlying the development of epithelial cancers or carcinomas which make up some 80-85% of all cancers in order to inform therapeutic strategies in cancer patients. The lab’s expertise is in human skin stem cell biology and cancer biology as it pertains to epithelial tissue renewal, wound repair and cancer. Human skin is used as a model epithelium in our lab, but findings in this tissue have been extended to many other epithelia including oesophageal, gastrointestinal and ovarian tissues. Our research interests are to understand the cellular and molecular interactions between epithelial stem cells and their immediate mesenchymal microenvironment that drive homeostatic cell replacement. Disruption of epithelial-mesenchymal  interactions occur during injury and cancer - an understanding of these perturbations provides insights into the development of proliferative diseases, ageing and carcinogenesis.   

Top 5 Publications

  1. Paquet-Fifield S, Schlüter H, Li A, Aitken T, Gangatirkar P, Blashki D, Koelmeyer R, Pouliot N, Palatsides M, Ellis S, Brouard N, Zannettino A, Saunders N, Thompson N, Li J & Kaur P. 2009. A role for pericytes as microenvironmental regulators of human skin tissue regeneration. J Clin Invest. 119 (9):2795-806.
  2. Schlüter H, Paquet-Fifield S, Gangatirkar P and Kaur P. 2011. Functional characterisation of quiescent keratinocyte stem cells and their progeny reveals a hierarchical organisation in human skin epidermis. Stem Cells. 29(8):1256-68. Accepted online 14 Jun 2011 DOI:10.1002/stem.675.
  3. Schlüter H, Jurgen-Stark, H, Boukamp P & Kaur P. 2013. Wif-1 is expressed by stem cells of the human interfollicular epidermis and acts to suppress keratinocyte proliferation. J Invest Derm. 133 (6): 1669-73.
  4. Mills SJ, Zhuang, L, Arandjelovic P, Cowin AJ & Kaur P. 2015. Effects of human pericytes in a murine excision model of wound healing. Exp Dermatol.  May 10. doi: 10.1111/exd.12755. [Epub ahead of print] 24 (11) : 881-883
  5. Sinha D, Chong L, George J, Schlüter H, Mönchgesang S, Mills S, Parish CR, Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group, Bowtell, DDL & Kaur P. 2015. Pericytes act independently of angiogenesis to promote ovarian cancer progression. Clinical Cancer Research. Published Online First on November 20, 2015; DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-1931

Recent Grant Successes

  1. NHMRC #1025874. The microenvironmental niche in cancer progression. Investigators : P Kaur & H Schlueter; 2012-2014, $181,000 pa
  2. L’Oreal, Paris, France. The role of pericytes in keratinocyte aging; Investigators : P Kaur; 2012-2015, $160,000 pa
  3. NHMRC # 1043453. Investigating human keratinocyte stem cells & their microenvironmental niche; Investigators : P Kaur & G Cotsarelis; 2013-2015, $183,741 pa
  4. Smith-Nephew, Austin, Texas, USA. Investigating the effect of “Product 802” on human keratinocyte stem and progenitor cell proliferation, differentiation and tissue regeneration. Investigators : P Kaur; 2014-2015. 180,050 pa.

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