The role of epithelial tuft cells

2021 Honours opportunity

Supervisor: Dr Michael Buchert

Group: Tumour Microenvironment and Cancer Signaling

Subjects prerequisites: MED3LAB, MED3PRJ and/or GEN3LAB

Persistent inflammation is a cancer promoting condition and a better understanding of its underlying mechanisms is key to developing better strategies to curb its chronic nature and decrease the incidence of progression to metaplasia and cancer.

In this project we will study the role of epithelial tuft cells – rare, solitary, chemosensory cells found in most epithelial tissues associated with mucosal surfaces such as the lung, intestine and stomach. Our understanding of tuft cell biology is still in its infancy but emerging literature has demonstrated a key role for this cell type in maintaining tissue homeostasis and in the host’s immune defence against parasite infections and allergens. Our lab has generated ample data suggesting that tuft cells are also playing an important part in the early stages of tissue metaplasia and tumour formation. This honours project will therefore extend upon these observations by genetically and pharmaceutically manipulating the tuft cell population in the gastrointestinal tissues (stomach, large and small intestine) under normal and chronic inflammatory conditions using sophisticated models.

Among the different experimental techniques this project offers are: tissue dissections and tissue harvest, FACS analysis, confocal and multiphoton microscopy, tissue purification of total RNA and protein, cDNA conversion of total RNA, real-time qPCR, Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, tissue culture of mammalian cells, transfection of mammalian cells, organoid cultures and immunostaining of gastric organoids.

The Buchert lab currently consists of two PhD students, one junior postdoc and a senior research associate.


How do I apply?

Please complete and return your Ranked Entry Project Selection Form (available in the 2021 projects booklet) by 5pm Friday 6 November 2020 to


How do I find out more?
Discover more about La Trobe University’s School of Molecular Sciences/LIMS Honours opportunities

 Contact the LTU Honours Coordinator, Dr Ivan Poon

Phone: 03 9479 6488