Research

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Understanding how a cell moves in response to environmental signals is a fundamental challenge in biology. We are interested in the machinery that links signaling pathways to cytoskeletal remodeling during guided cell movement.  Our entry point into this problem is through the analysis of cytoskeletal regulatory proteins including the Ena/VASP family.  We have shown that Mena, VASP and EVL, highly related proteins that comprise the Ena/VASP family, play pivotal roles in movement and shape change for a variety of cells, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells, epithelial cells, and neurons; Ena/VASP directly regulates actin filament network assembly, modulates morphology and behavior of membrane protrusions, and influences cell motility. There are three related Ena/VASP proteins in vertebrates: Mena, EVL and VASP. Our genetic studies reveal that Ena/VASP proteins play critical roles in neuritogenesis, axonal guidance and endothelial barrier formation and neural tube closure. Ena/VASP family members are concentrated at focal adhesion and in the leading edges and the tips of filopodia in migratory cells. Therefore, this protein family is perfectly positioned to serve a role in the early rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton in response to migration cues.

Cancer

Cancer

One major goal of the lab is to study how Ena/VASP and associated signaling and cytoskeletal protein contribute to chemotactic responses in carcinoma cells. more >>

Axon Guidance

Axon guidance

A second major goal of the lab is to understand how axons navigate to their targets to form the circuitry of the nervous system. more >>