College of Biological Sciences
These researchers are applying genetic, molecular and biochemical approaches in Drosophila to study the molecular regulation of motor proteins and intercellular transport.
- Mitotic mechanisms: The group's mutational analysis of the Drosophila dynein motor protein revealed its essential function in mitotic cell divisions within living embryos. They are testing the hypothesis that phosphorylation of dynein regulates the stripping of checkpoint proteins from kinetochores and mitotic progression. To analyze the functional signficance of identified phosphorylation sites, target residues are systematically mutated and mutant transgenes expressed in vivo.
- Neuronal transport: The extended morphology of axons and dendrites makes post-mitotic neurons especially dependent on polarized transport, and ideal for studying the regulation of transport.In neurons, motor proteins transport critical signals over long distances to regulate neuronal survival and cell death, as well as to trigger the onset of neurodegenerative disease or neuronal regeneration. The lab's recent efforts are directed at studying neuronal transport in Drosophila to ask whether disruption of transport is a convergence point in the development of neurodegenerative disease. The researchers are pursuing the gene products and mechanisms that regulate motor proteins, and neuronal transport in Drosophila (fly) models of neurodegeneration..