The series of events that pattern the vertebrate embryo may be considered a proliferative, almost cancerous-like growth phase goverened by strict developmental guidelines. Many of these events rely on cell-cell communication and the transduction of signals across the plasma membrane of the receiving cell. Thus, disrupting this signaling has dramatic and disastrous effects on many aspects of cell physiology including, but not limited to, cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions, cell polarity, endo- and exocytosis, migration, proliferation, and differentiation.
Dr. Kelly's research specifically deals with the cell-cell signaling events that pattern the developing vertebrate embryo, and particulary how crosstalk generated by Reactive Oxygen Species influence Wnt-beta-catenin, Planar Cell Polarity, and G-Protein Coupled Receptor-linked pathways. The models that he use vary from established tissue culture cells like the mouse F9 embryonal carcinoma line, to the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo. The biological phenomenon that piques his interest is the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, which is involved in normal embryonic development including extraembryonic endoderm formation, gastrulation and heart formation, as well in human disease conditions such as fibrosis and metastatic cancer.