All living cells are dynamic machines that integrate a wide variety of biochemical and mechanical information, continuously adapting and responding to their local environment. Signals transmitted by hormones, growth factors, neighboring cells or the extracellular matrix are sensed by cells and can trigger rapid changes in metabolism, gene expression, cell shape/cytoskeletal organization, membrane dynamics and behavior. For example, cell migration in response to external cues involves the dynamic reorganization of the actin, microtubule and intermediate filament cytoskeletons, coordinated with membrane trafficking events that deliver new membrane to the leading edge and internalize adhesive receptors from the cell rear. In all cells, the targeted delivery of receptors, transporters, secretory and endocytic cargo to the appropriate destination is essential for cell function. Many of these processes are disrupted or dysregulated in human disease, and many pathogenic microorganisms manipulate host cell cytoskeleton or membrane dynamics to establish a reproductive niche.
Researchers in the Department of Cell Biology explore cellular dynamics using a variety of model systems ranging from cultured cells to Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus and mouse models. Employing state-of-the-art imaging, biochemical, biophysical and genetic approaches, our goals are to visualize and analyze cellular events at high resolution and in real time. We seek to clarify the underlying forces and mechanisms that interact to drive cellular behavior. These studies, which emphasize fundamental cellular processes, are also essential for understanding how perturbations alter their course and may lead to disease.
Role of Arf family GTPases in vesicular transport and cytoskeleton assembly.
Cell Biology of bacterial pathogenesis.
The innate immune response to bacterial infection.
Intracellular cholesterol and the regulation of insulin secretion and membrane trafficking.
Cell Adhesion and Adhesion-Dependent Cell Signaling in Vertebrate Morphogenesis
Neural Development; Cell Division in Neural Stem Cells; Axon Outgrowth and Guidance
The role of glia in the development, maintenance and regeneration of the nervous system
Obesity and Aging
Regulation of Cytoplasmic Dynein for Membrane Bounded Organelle Trafficking in Axons
Apoptotic cell clearance mechanisms in health and disease
Spindle assembly, the structure function relation and the basics of the huge variability of spindle size, architecture and mechanics between different tissues as well as different species
Mechanisms of actin assembly during cell migration and membrane traffic
Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in Mitosis and generation of Chromosomal Instability in tumors
Biomembrane Structure and Function; Cell Entry of Enveloped Viruses; Neurosecretion by Exocytosis; Structure of Bacterial Pathogen Membrane Proteins; Lipid-Protein Interactions
Virus Entry into Cells: Mechanisms and Development of Anti-Viral Therapeutics
Endosomal function and dysfunction in neurons. Wiring the nervous system in development.