The membranes of eukarytoic cells are in continual flux, trafficking receptors and other proteins to their appropriate intracellular destinations. This process is important to signal transduction, cancer, and development. The overall goal of my lab is to understand how membrane traffic is regulated in normal cells and how this process goes awry in diseased cells. Our research is designed to identify and understand the cellular proteins that form, direct and regulate membrane traffic. One strategy is to create "knock-out" cell lines with specific mutations in gene products that mediate membrane traffic. We then test physiological function in these mutant cells. A complementary strategy is to tag normal and mutant proteins with the fluorescent tag, Green Fluorescent Protein, and then examine the dynamic distribution of these proteins in living cells.
Currently, we are focusing on the proteins that form the structural coat of endocytic membranes, the clathrin coat, and on rabs, small GTPases thought to regulate the fusion or budding of endocytic membrane. To approach this problem we use a combination of molecular biology, genetics and time-lapse fluorescence microscopy to image living cells. As model systems, we use the single-celled organism, Dictyostelium discoideum, and mammalian cells grown in tissue culture.
Affiliated Research Units
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