Our laboratory is focused on the microtubule-based motor cytoplasmic dynein and its activator dynactin. Dynein and dynactin are required for vesicular trafficking, microtubule organization, mitotic spindle assembly, and development of polarity. We are interested in the mechanisms of force production and motor function, mechanisms of cargo coupling and regulation, effects of dynein and dynactin on dynamics of the cytoskeleton, and the analysis of neurodegenerative diseases resulting from impairments in dynein/dynactin function. Disruptions in dynein/dynactin function cause motor neuron degeneration and muscle atrophy, leading to motor neuron diseases similar to ALS. Approaches in the lab include in vitro motility assays for motors, microtubules and organelles, biochemical and cellular assays for binding partners, live cell microscopy, and development and characterization of transgenic mouse models for motor neuron disease.