Cell migration is a highly coordinated process fundamental to both normal development and cancer. To decipher molecular mechanisms of cell migration, these researchers study a developmental migratory stem cell type, the neural crest. Neural crest cells form surprisingly diverse structures in animals with backbones and are abnormal in a variety of common birth defects and cancers. Beyond gene expression, the molecular mechanisms that regulate neural crest cell formation and migration are poorly understood. These researchers are working to understand how the regulation of protein activity through modifications and protein-protein interactions modulates neural crest gene expression and coordinates migration. This research examines the requirement for candidate neural crest regulatory factors through functional studies in chick embryos and melanoma cell culture, and has implicated a phosphatase, a transmembrane scaffolding protein, a lysine methyltransferase, and non-histone protein methylation in neural crest development. The researchers are currently working to identify proteins that interact with and are targets of these factors in the neural crest. They use MSI for proteomic and next-generation sequence analysis software and resources to process and analyze data.