Ph.D., Florida State University, 2002
Actin cytoskeleton remodeling and the ARP 2/3 complex in cancer cell metastasis
The crawling motion displayed by amoeboid cells is found in single and multicellular organisms. The molecular mechanism that drives this motion is conserved, but the range of fundamental processes it drives in biology is diverse. For example, single cell soil amoebae crawl through detritus following the chemical cues emitted from microbes prior to engulfing them. Macrophages of the human immune system crawl through tissue in pursuit of pathogens to prevent infection. Both of these cells crawl by protruding lamellipodia from the cell body in a similar fashion. This movement requires the actin cytoskeleton, the cellular engine that provides the forces for amoeboid motility. It is the actin cytoskeleton that drives metastasis and invasion of cancer cells, healing of wounded epithelia, migration of smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis, and motility of bacterium in host cells. How cells use the same set of cytoskeletal components to build different structures with very different functions and architectures is poorly understood and is the overall focus of my laboratory.
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