The cytoskeleton is a key component of eukaryotic cells and is comprised of intermediate filaments, actin filaments and microtubules. Together with molecular motors and a large number of regulatory proteins, the cytoskeleton provides mechanical strength, regulates signal transduction and provides a means of moving organelles and materials within the cell. It also provides the mechanical force for cell motility, cytokinesis, axonal transport and many other basic cellular functions.
Faculty in the department study:
- The dynamics of how these systems assemble and disassemble in response to physiological stimuli
- The structural and mechanical properties of the molecular motors
- The motors responsible for the various types of motility
- The accessory proteins that modulate microtubule and actin stability
- The role of the cytoskeleton in establishing cell polarity and directed cell migration
- How motile organelles are assembled and interact in a coordinated fashion
James Bartles Lab
We study the “espins,” a novel family of actin-bundling proteins and the elucidation of their roles in the stereocilia of sensory hair cells in the inner ear. Espins are produced in multiple isoforms from a single gene. They are present at high concentration in the parallel actin bundle scaffold at the core of hair cell stereocilia and are the target of deafness mutations in mice and humans.
Rex Chisholm Lab
We are pursuing signal transduction studies to understand the physiologically important pathways that regulate cell motility and biophysical studies such as in vitro motility assays to understand how these molecular motors function at the molecular level.
Vladimir Gelfand Lab
The main interest of our laboratory is to understand how cargo transport is regulated, how multiple motors on the surface of the same cargo interact with each other and how motors and transport in general define cell shape and cell polarity.
Robert Goldman Lab
Our lab investigates the structure and function of intermediate filaments (IF), a major cytoskeletal component that plays a critical role in providing structural and mechanical support to the cell.
Brian Mitchell Lab
Our goal is to understand the integration of signaling and cytoskeletal dynamics on diverse developmental processes including centriole amplification, cell migration and cell polarity.
Dileep Varma Lab
Work in our lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that are involved the controlling and regulating kinetochore microtubule attachments in vertebrate cells. We are also working to delineate the intricate mechanisms that link this event with the activation and silencing of the spindle assembly checkpoint, which is also critical for accurate chromosome segregation.