"Being responsible for my own research project has been a great incentive to step out of my scientific comfort zone and explore areas less familiar to me such as Molecular Biology. These bacteria were transformed to produce a plasmid containing a synthetic piece of double stranded DNA I designed." - Lisi Krainer
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The actin cytoskeleton is a network of filaments composed of the protein actin that populate the cell's cytoplasm. In a given cell, this network can be organized into a large number of distinct substructures that may range form from simple cable-like bundles through complex, repetitive arrays. These cytoskeletal structures give cells their proper shape, control the distribution of organelles, and allow cells to move. Our primary goal is to understand at the molecular level how distinct actin filament structures assemble, and how they perform their functions. Our focus is on the family of actin-organizing proteins called Formins. Formins are conserved proteins with homologs in nearly every type of eukaryotic organism, including animals, plants, and fungi. Among animals, seven distinct subclasses of Formins exist, but their precise functions are not clear. We are probing the functions of these Formin subclasses through a combination of biochemical assays using purified proteins, and genetic and microscopic studies using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. Our current work focuses on the relationship between one Formin subclass and muscle development.