Urszula Derewenda, PhD

Urszula Derewenda, PhD

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Structural biology of cell migration proteins and the Rho signaling pathway (Metastasis)

The Urszula Derwenda research program is mainly focused on understanding the structure and function of proteins involved in cell signaling, cell migration and axonal guidance. She uses a variety of different techniques with main emphases on X-ray crystallography. Her current research is on structural studies of:

1. Mechanisms of RhoA signaling. This project investigates a variety of proteins that function as exchange factors specific for RhoA. The studies involve investigations of interactions between individual domains of these proteins and RhoA. Rho GTPases are involved in a variety of cellular processes e.g. cell-cell contact, actin cytoskeleton organization. Rho GTPases, in particular RhoA, are involved in malignant transformations. They are overexpressed in different types of human tumors.
Recently they have elucidated a structure of the RhoA in complex with DH/PH domain of PDZ-RhoGEF, a member on a new family of GEFs, associated with leukemia or prostate cancer.
2. Molecular basis of neuronal migration.  This project involves structural characterization of proteins that play physiological role in migrating neurons, namely doublecortin, Lis1 and various other proteins that interact with these. Several of these proteins have been implicated in tumors of neuronal linage.