The ability of a cell to change shape and move are critical during embryonic development, immune responses and wound healing. However this ability becomes detrimental when cells escape from primary tumors and invade new tissues, as metastasis is the leading cause of death in cancer patients. Coordinated cytoskeletal dynamics and membrane trafficking underlie cell morphology changes and motility in both development and cancer metastasis. Understanding how these subcellular systems are regulated and coordinated will be fundamental in determining how cells change shape and move, and how this can be manipulated.
My laboratory is interested in how extracellular cues, such as binding cell adhesion molecules or chemotropic guidance cues, are interpreted into alterations of the cytoskeleton dynamics and membrane trafficking events that mediate cell morphology change and motility. While mechanistically interconnected, how cytoskeletal remodeling and membrane trafficking are coordinated to achieve cell movement and morphology is poorly understood.
My lab is focusing on molecules poised to translate extracellular cues into coordinated cytoskeletal changes and membrane trafficking. In recent years, a clear overlap in molecules involved in the movement and guidance of neurons in the developing nervous system and those involved tumor formation and metastasis has emerged, revealing important similarities between these seemingly disparate systems.
Therefore, we are exploring the function of these molecules in both cancer cell models and embryonic neurons. My laboratory uses parallel biochemical, genetic, cell biological, and high-resolution microscopy approaches to determine how cytoskeletal dynamics, adhesion dynamics, and membrane trafficking drive morphogenesis and motility in cancer cells and developing neurons.
S.L. Gupton, D. Riquelme, S.K. Hughes-Alford, J. Tadros, S.S. Rudina, R.O.Hynes, D. Lauffenburger, and F.B. Gertler (2012). Mena binds α5 integrin directly and modulates α5β1 function. Journal of Cell Biology. Aug 20, 2012; 198 (4). PMID: 22908313
Dent EW, Gupton SL, Gertler FB. (2011). The growth cone cytoskeleton in axon outgrowth and guidance. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. Mar 1;3(3). pii: a001800. PMID: 21106647
Gupton, S.L. and Gertler, F.B. (2010). Integrin signaling switches the cytoskeletal and exocytic machinery driving neuritogenesis. Developmental Cell. 18(5)725-36. PMID: 20493807
Gupton, S.L., and Gertler, F.B. (2007). Filopodia: the fingers that do the walking. Science STKE 2007, 400. PMID: 17712139
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