What I doAssociate Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Program
cell biology, Developmental Biology, biophysics
We utilize both live and fixed cell imaging techniques in genetic and cell biological approaches to dissect the generation of cellular asymmetries within epithelial sheets. During tissue remodeling of the Drosophila germband we have shown that contractile, cytoskeletal and cell adhesion proteins participate in a system of planar polarity (Blankenship et al., 2006). These planar asymmetries are required for locally coordinated cell rearrangements that drive tissue elongation. In a separate body of work on the generation of apical-basal polarity, we found that exocytotic membrane trafficking is critical to the formation of the apical epithelial domain, and identified specific proteins required for the polarized delivery of key apical determinants (Blankenship et al., 2007). Ongoing studies are combining these two areas of research to examine the function of directed membrane addition in shaping the architecture of epithelial tissues. Projects in the lab revolve around the development of live-imaging techniques, computational analysis of 4D movies, genetic disruption of plasma membrane trafficking and the identification of new polarity proteins.
Areas of Research
- Sliding vertex behaviors during epithelial morphogenesis and tissue elongation
- Mechanisms of membrane ratcheting during cell intercalation