About the Cell and Developmental Biology Program
Research in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology explores the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of cellular function and development. Research in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology is in several exciting areas:
- Assembly and Dynamics of Myofibrils —The aim is to
understand how muscle proteins become organized into interacting subunits
that form the contractile myofibrils of skeletal and cardiac muscle. The
ability to follow this process in living cells expressing fluorescently
tagged molecules presents the opportunity to analyze the dynamics and binding
interactions of wild type and mutant proteins in situ. The emphasis is
on using the latest imaging techniques with molecular biology methods to
test hypotheses about the formation of myofibrils and to determine how
mutated sarcomeric proteins produce changes in myofibrillar properties
that lead to cardiac and skeletal muscle disease.
- Genetics and cell biology of organ morphogenesis —includes
the study of organogenesis during embryo development, mechanisms of establishing
left-right asymmetry and genetic basis of congenital heart defects.
- Genetics of ciliary motility &mdash focus is on identification
of genes important for the assembly and motility of cilia, to reveal mechanisms
of cargo recognition for transport of ciliary precursors during assembly,
the role of chaperones in pre-assembly of dynein motors, and the function
of the central pair complex in dynein regulation.
- Mammalian neural development and regeneration —includes research on
the ability of partially differentiated stem cells (oligodendrogial
precursor cells; OPCs) to remyelinate damaged axons after spinal cord
injury (SCI); the role of Reelin production by OPCs on
oligodendroglial development and function; the role of extracellular
matrix molecules (chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans) in inhibiting
axonal regeneration and the migration and differentiation of OPCs in
vitro and after spinal injury, and the ability of chondroitinase to
overcome this inhibition enhancing regeneration and remyelination;
the effect of neurotrophic/growth factors to protect axotomized
neurons and to stimulate axonal regeneration and the migration of
OPCs after spinal cord injury; the intrinsic cellular response of
propriospinal neurons to axotomy and factors that promote an
intracellular growth response, apoptosis, or neuronal atrophy;
overcoming the axonopathy seen in axons that continue to span spinal
injury that results from secondary intra-axonal injury processes
caused by initial axonal membrane damage at the time of spinal
- Mechanisms of actin assembly during endocytosis —includes
work on the mechanism of induction of actin assembly by the Arp2/3 complex
activators and analysis of the role of molecular motor protein myosin-1. This
work uses biochemical, genetic and microscopic approaches in model organism
fission yeast S. pombe.
- Role of class I myosins in kidney functions—includes
analysis of the roles of myosin motors in regulation of renal filtration,
epithelial cell migration and adhesion, and membrane trafficking using mouse
and cell culture models.
- Role of cell adhesion in regulating the cytoskeleton and cell motility —includes work on regulation of the leukocyte actin cytoskeleton by integrin activation, regulation of fibroblast adhesion to the extracellular matrix through the formation of focal adhesion complexes, and regulation of flagellar motility in response to changes in intracellular calcium ion signaling.
- Role of Formins in animals —includes
biochemical characterization of formin/cytoskeleton interactions, and determination
of cell- and tissue-specific functions for different
formin isoforms using C. elegans as a genetic model system.
Students and faculty use a variety of research methods including sophisticated
light microscopy (automated motility tracking, laser confocal microscopy,
high-resolution dark-field imaging, real-time fluorescence microscopy,
high-sensitivity digital cameras and image processing), electron microscopy,
tissue culture, stereotactic surgery, flow cytometry and a complete range
of molecular and biochemical techniques.
Joseph W. Sanger, PhD, Chair
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Location: 1135 Weiskotten Hall
766 Irving Ave., Syracuse, NY 13210
Phone: (315) 464-5120 | Fax: (315) 464-8535
Being responsible for my own research project has been a great incentive to step out of my scientific comfort zone and explore areas less familiar to me such as Molecular Biology. These bacteria were transformed to produce a plasmid containing a synthetic piece of double stranded DNA I designed."
— Lisi Krainer