Axonal transport, molecular motors, and cytoskeletal dynamics
The coordinated activities of kinesin and dynein motors are required to drive long distance transport in axons that can extend up to a meter from the cell body.
We use live cell imaging in primary and iPSC-derived human neurons to study organelle trafficking and its regulation.
We use cellular and biophysical approaches including single molecule analysis to study motor dynamics and motor coordination.
We are also interested in the dynamics of the cellular cytoskeleton, investigating the role of microtubule dynamics in regulating transport initiation and cargo delivery, and actin filament assembly/disassembly in the regulation of mitochondrial fission/fusion and bioenergetics.
Autophagy is required to clear dysfunctional organelles and aggregated proteins. Using live imaging, we identified a spatially-specific and ordered pathway for autophagosome biogenesis and maturation along the axon. We are also interested in the mechanisms of selective autophagy required for organelle quality control, including mitophagy and lysophagy.
Mutations in molecular motors or components of the autophagy pathway lead to neurodegeneration. We use mechanistic approaches to study the pathogenesis of neurodegeneration in ALS, Parkinson's, and Huntington’s disease.