MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Luke Boulter Research Group

Signalling in Tissue Repair and Cancer

Luke Boulter
Dr Luke Boulter - IGC Chancellor's Fellow

Research in a Nutshell 

During tissue homeostasis and regeneration epithelial cells must balance proliferation, cell death and differentiation to maintain a functional organ. In the liver, this regulation requires the constant integration of signals by epithelial cells from non-epithelial, niche cells, which includes inflammatory cells and fibroblasts. In cancer, these interactions become deregulated and epithelial cells can either be regulated independent of their microenvironment or the niche becomes permissive to tumour formation. 

Our lab is interested in how the signals, which come from the regenerative microenvironment drive tissue repair following injury and how these signals are co-opted by the tumour to support cancer growth. We are particularly interested in the role of the Wnt pathway in these processes and are currently working on both canonical and non-canonical Wnt signalling to define how these pathways regulate tissue architecture, using the adult liver and cancers of the adult liver as a models for these studies.


Research Programme

Luke Boulter group


Luke Boulter Reader and Cancer Research UK Fellow
Edward Jarman CRUK Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Anabel Martinez-Lyons CRUK Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Scott Waddell

CSO Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Alex Walker

Edinburgh Clinical Academic Track (ECAT) Fellow

Paula Olaizola Marie Curie Skłodowska Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Michaela Raab PhD Student

Ersi Christodoulou

PhD Student

Sara Teles

PhD Student

Elizabeth Carmichael

PhD Student (with Martin Taylor)

Caitlin McCaffrey

PhD Student (with Rachel Guest)

Kyle Davies

Technical Officer

Andreea Gradinaru Research Technician
Aleksandra Rozyczko Research Assistant



  1. Waddell SH, Yao Y, Olaizola P, Walker A, Jarman EJ, Gournopanos K, Gradinaru A, Christodoulou E, Gautier P, Boerrigter MM, Cadamuro M, Fabris L, Drenth JP, Kendall TJ, Banales JM, Khamseh A, Mill P, Boulter L. A TGFβ-ECM-integrin signaling axis drives structural reconfiguration of the bile duct to promote polycystic liver disease. Sci Transl Med. 2023 Sep 13;15(713):eabq5930. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abq5930. Epub 2023 Sep 13. PMID: 37703354; PMCID: PMC7615241.
  2. Younger NT, Wilson ML, Martinez Lyons A, Jarman EJ, Meynert AM, Grimes GR, Gournopanos K, Waddell SH, Tennant PA, Wilson DH, Guest RV, Wigmore SJ, Acosta JC, Kendall TJ, Taylor MS, Sproul D, Mill P, Boulter L. In Vivo Modeling of Patient Genetic Heterogeneity Identifies New Ways to Target Cholangiocarcinoma. Cancer Res. 2022 Apr 15;82(8):1548-1559. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-21-2556. PMID: 35074757; PMCID: PMC9359731.
  3. Wilson DH, Jarman EJ, Mellin RP, Wilson ML, Waddell SH, Tsokkou P, Younger NT, Raven A, Bhalla SR, Noll ATR, Olde Damink SW, Schaap FG, Chen P, Bates DO, Banales JM, Dean CH, Henderson DJ, Sansom OJ, Kendall TJ, Boulter L. Non-canonical Wnt signalling regulates scarring in biliary disease via the planar cell polarity receptors. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 23;11(1):445. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14283-3. PMID: 31974352; PMCID: PMC6978415.
  4. Raven A, Lu WY, Man TY, Ferreira-Gonzalez S, O'Duibhir E, Dwyer BJ, Thomson JP, Meehan RR, Bogorad R, Koteliansky V, Kotelevtsev Y, Ffrench-Constant C, Boulter L, Forbes SJ. Cholangiocytes act as facultative liver stem cells during impaired hepatocyte regeneration. Nature. 2017 Jul 20;547(7663):350-354. doi: 10.1038/nature23015. Epub 2017 Jul 12. Erratum in: Nature. 2018 Mar 14;555(7696):402. PMID: 28700576; PMCID: PMC5522613.
  5. Boulter L, Guest RV, Kendall TJ, Wilson DH, Wojtacha D, Robson AJ, Ridgway RA, Samuel K, Van Rooijen N, Barry ST, Wigmore SJ, Sansom OJ, Forbes SJ. WNT signaling drives cholangiocarcinoma growth and can be pharmacologically inhibited. J Clin Invest. 2015 Mar 2;125(3):1269-85. doi: 10.1172/JCI76452. Epub 2015 Feb 17. PMID: 25689248; PMCID: PMC4362247.

Full publication list can be found on Research Explorer: Luke Boulter — University of Edinburgh Research Explorer


Scientific Themes

Cholangiocarcinoma, liver, intestine, Wnt signalling

Technology Expertise

Cancer Models, Organoids, Quantitative Imaging, Pathologist