Neuronal proteins are continuously synthesized from amino acids and then transported to specific locations throughout the cell. After a remarkably short period of time- hours to days, usually- proteins are marked for degradation, transported to organelles such as lysosomes or proteasomes and degraded back into amino acids. Thus, the most complicated machine in nature is in a continual state of renovation with a substantial portion of its components replaced on a daily basis. Our laboratory studies two aspects of the life cycle of neuronal proteins. We are interested in how newly synthesized proteins are targeted to specific subcellular locations, a process that plays a crucial rule in determining and maintaining cellular morphology, electrophysiological function and synaptic connectivity. We are also interested in how proteins are degraded, a process that holds the key to understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’ s and Huntington’s diseases. We have discovered a novel actin/myosin-based mechanism by which proteins are targeted either to the somatodendritic compartment or to the surface of the axon. We have also developed novel molecular probes, known as intrabodies, that can be used to visualize endogenous proteins in vivo and/or cause their degradation very quickly, specifically, and inducibly.
We were awarded a Transformative R01 along with Scott Fraser and Carl Kesselman (10/2014).
We were awarded a Eureka Grant to develop new FingRs (10/2014).
We were awarded a grant from the Human Frontiers Science Program with Yves De Koninck and Oliver Griesbeck to use FingRs to probe synaptic function. (3/2014)
Postdoctoral Fellow Positions Open