Fulvia Verde, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology
Description of Research
Control of Cell Morphogenesis. Dr. Verde’s research goal is to understand the molecular basis of cell morphogenesis in eukaryotic cells and its coordination to cell proliferation. To this end, Dr. Verde and her team have investigated the function of Orb6, a conserved protein kinase that is required for maintenance of cell polarity and regulation of the cell cycle. The laboratory has identified six proteins that physically interact with Orb6 and established their role in the control of Orb6 function. Five of these proteins are conserved in human cells. These factors are involved in Orb6 activity regulation, in the control of Orb6 intracellular localization, or function as substrate effectors of Orb6 kinase in the control of cell morphology and the cell cycle.
Furthermore, her research team has been working with Tea1, a microtubule-associated protein that functions as a marker for cell polarity, and shows similarity to human ERM (Ezrin, Radixin and Moesin) proteins: they have identified several proteins that interact with Tea1 by 2-hybrid screening. One of these proteins has recently shown to be essential for spatial organization of microtubule dynamics. These findings are important because little is known about the mechanism of microtubule-dependent cell morphogenesis.
- Dr. Verde’s findings show that Bot1 may function as a molecular bridge between Tea1, a microtubule-associated protein required for the establishment of cell polarity and Orb6, a conserved protein kinase related to mammalian Rho-kinase and Myotonic Dystrophy kinase.
- Her findings suggest that one of the effectors of Orb6 kinase is the formin For3p that functions in the control of actin cable polymerization.
- Das M, Wiley DJ, Chen X, Shah K, Verde F. The conserved NDR kinase Orb6 controls polarized cell growth by spatial regulation of the small GTPase Cdc42. Curr Biol 19:1314-9, 2009. Read more »
These findings offer an insight into the hierarchy of events that lead to polarized cell growth and in the mechanisms of microtubule-dependent cell polarity control.