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Research

 

Our research focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the interplay between myosin motors, the membrane-cytoskeleton systems and associated signaling pathways. This complex interplay, which results in the generation of forces and movements, plays a key role in almost all dynamic processes of cells including shape, growth, motility, and division. My research team is particularly interested in characterizing the molecular, kinetic, mechanistic, and functional properties of various myosins with the overall goal to understand how the motors integrate the signals and protein components to coordinate dynamic changes of the cytoskeleton, remodeling of membranes, and intracellular transport for providing polarity, tension, stability and adhesive properties to cells in a spatiotemporally controlled manner.

We follow an interdisciplinary approach that is based on a methodological framework combining protein biochemistry, quantitative cell biology, and biophysics applied to comparative in vitro and in vivo studies of various myosins including classes 1, 2, 5, 7 10, and 15.

Our investigations provide new and important insights into the mechanisms of myosin regulation, energetic coupling, mechanotransduction, targeting and cargo selection, crosstalk of the microtubule and actin cytoskeletons, and issues related to the pathophysiology of the proteins in cardiovascular, oncological or neuronal disorders.

Our recent engineering advancements in generating highly stable motor protein nanomachines based on myosins that can be easily controlled in their activity and performance are being further optimized for biomedical and biotechnological applications ranging from organization and accumulation of cargo to assembly and sensing functions in biohybrid devices. In addition the engineering approaches are useful for understanding how factors beyond the myosin motor domain such as the double-headed nature, mechanical compliance, higher order assembly contribute to cooperative effects and efficiency of power output.

Currently, we focus our research activities on the characterization of the molecular interplay between myosins and cytoskeleton-based signalling network including accessory proteins in processes of cell activation, cellular pathogen infection, cell-cell communication thereby addressing mechanistic aspects of their roles in cell protrusion dynamics and intrafilopodial transport, phagocytosis, antigen processing, cell junctions and adhesion.