The development of multicellular organisms involves a series of morphogenetic processes coordinating a highly dynamic and organized interplay between cells and their environment. Thus, the generation of forces that drive cellular and intracellular movements is prerequisite to shape single cells into tissues and organs. The actin cytoskeleton represents a highly dynamic filament system providing cell structure and mechanical forces to drive cell migration and vesicle trafficking. The aim of our research is to understand how key regulators such as members of the WASP/WAVE are differentially activated in distinct actin dynamics-driven processes at the cellular and multicellular level in Drosophila. Drosophila as a model system allows combining powerful genetic tools with conventional biochemical and live-imaging analyses to dissect the physiological functions and functional interactions of known regulators but also to identify new regulatory factors and signals. Thus, the long-term goal of our research is the identification and characterization of all regulatory components of these macromolecular networks to gain new insights how actin polymerization is controlled at the molecular level and how actin dynamics and membrane dynamics are mechanistically linked to shape a multicellular organism.

 

 

Current research projects:

Molecular control of actin polymerization:

Characterization of tissue-specific WASP protein complexes

The role of phoshorylation in regulating WAVE and WASP functions

Identification of novel actin regulatory factors (Macrophage-specific RNAi screen)

Coupling of actin and membrane dynamics in vesicle trafficking, cell polarity, axonal targeting and cell migration:

The role of F-BAR proteins in coupling actin and membrane dynamics

Analysis of Ena function in regulating Abi/WAVE activity in axonal targeting and cell migration

Analysis of GUKh in regulating WAVE functions in Drosophila in axonal targeting and oogenesis

Functional characterization of new nucleation promoting factors in Drosophila development