Cell division (cytokinesis) and directed cell migration (chemotaxis) are two processes that have been implicated in many disease states, including many forms of cancer. Research in my lab is focused on understanding how cells establish and maintain polarity during chemotaxis and also during cytokinesis. Molecular and biochemical approaches are being used to study known signaling and cytoskeletal proteins and also to find new components which regulate cell polarity. Advanced light microscopy is used to visualize these proteins and their localization under various conditions in the living cell.
We primarily use the social amoeba D. discoideum, an established model organism for these studies. However, we are also using a number of mammalian cell lines. Current projects include:
1) Exploiting the molecular and genetic advantages of D. discoideum by employing genetic screens to isolate mutants with polarity and motility defects and then pursuing the functions of these proteins in mammalian cells.
2) Investigate, using various microscopy techniques (TIRF, FRAP, and FRET), the localization of various signaling and cytoskeletal proteins that regulate motility and cell polarity.
3) Study the regulation of the heterotrimeric G protein cycle, utilizing a novel in vivo FRET-based assay.
4) Develop novel microfabricated devices for trapping and imaging cells.