Cytoskeleton and Cell Polarity
The cytoskeleton and
associated cytoskeletal motor proteins represents an area of intense
research interest for the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology and
dovetails nicely with many of the other major research themes of the
department, such as cell motility, cell adhesion and morphogenesis.
Particular emphasis is placed on studies of the regulation of
Departmental faculty are actively studying the role of the actin cytoskeleton (and associated myosin motor proteins) in cell-cell adhesion, cell-substrate adhesion, cell polarity, cell migration, pathogen entry, and dendritic spine morphogenesis. Attention is being focused on actin-binding proteins (such as capping proteins), protein kinases, small G-proteins (Rac, Rho and CDC42 and their regulators) and other signaling molecules that regulate actin assembly, actin turnover and myosin function in mammalian cells as well as in model organisms such as yeast. The Department of Cell Biology is the headquarters of the NIH funded and nationally recognized Cell Migration Consortium.
A number of research programs in the Department of Cell Biology are also focused on the role of the microtubule cytokeleton and microtubule-associated motor proteins (dyneins and kinesins) and their roles in whole cell locomotion (in animal cells, sperm and Chlamydomonas), intracellular transport processes (such as axoplasmic transport in neurons) and mitosis.
As with other areas of departmental research, studies of the cytoskeleton often represent collaborative efforts across departmental labs and across departments within the School of Medicine and even across schools of the University of Virginia.
Image courtesy of Kozminski lab.