Functional Genomics of Cell Morphogenesis
An extraordinary capacity of cells is their ability to modulate their shape, polarity and intracellular cytoskeletal organisation, according to the functions they need to perform. Work in our lab seeks to elucidate how the gene and protein networks that regulate cellular growth, division and morphogenesis operate in space and in time, and how different cell shapes and growth patterns can arise from a single genome.
We have pioneered the development of 3D image-based high-throughput/high-content microscopy pipelines for yeast-based functional genomics studies. Using that approach, we recently completed the first comprehensive live cell-based screen for microtubule and cell shape regulators and discovered tens of novel candidate regulators - mostly evolutionarily conserved through to humans - which we are validating. Our aim is to generate the most exhaustive genomic map and phenotypic annotation of such regulators, and identify candidate biomedically-relevant targets. Capitalising on this technology, several other microscopy-based functional genomics projects are ongoing in our group.
We also recently discovered that the molecular machinery that regulates cell polarity localises to nanoscopic protein clusters at the cell cortex, with different regulators belonging to different cluster populations. This allows cells to control whether certain polarity regulators interact with others on the cortex, at different points of the cell cycle, revealing a fundamental hitherto ignored layer of cell polarity regulation.
Lastly, a large focus of the lab has shifted to establishing refined biophysical and micro-fabrication technologies to investigate how mechanical inputs modulate cell growth, a fundamental yet very poorly understood aspect of morphogenetic control.
Read more here: http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/research-groups/carazo-salas
Classical genetics has typically focused on dissecting how genes or pathways control a given process within cells. However, many genes likely play roles in multiple processes, which are potentially linked to one another. Unravelling those multiple roles and links is a pressing challenge if we are to understand how healthy cells function normally as integrated systems and, conversely, how complex cellular pathologies arise in disease and how to fix them.