New BIOL 560 Research Course During Spring 2013

Image A PlateThis semester I’m experimenting by offering a BIOL 560 student/faculty collaborative research course entitled “Mechanisms of Cell Motility”.  In this course my six students and I are  investigating the roles of two facilitators of actin filament polymerization, the Arp2/3 complex and formin 2.  Using B16 mouse melanoma cells (immunofluorescently labeled at left for actinArp3, and DNA) we are using specific small molecule inhibitors of these polymerization facilitators to determine the overall impact on the actin cytoskeleton.  Actin mediates cell motility which is a crucial attribute of these highly motile and therefore highly metastatic melanoma cells.  We also may try to compare the results of the pharmacological approach with inhibition based on siRNA methods in which gene-sequence specific segments of double stranded RNA are introduced into the cells which leads to destruction of the corresponding mRNA for the protein of interest (in this case Arp3 or formin2). Ultimately we want to compare the results that we obtain with these mammalian cells with similar experiments we have been performing with sea urchin coelomocytes.

The students involved in this research are seniors Caroline Jordan, Jake Kleiner, and Rebecca Patterson; juniors Christine Neville and Eileen Shen; and sophomore Brandon Goldson.  They will use the course to satisfy the biology or biochem & mol biol major research requirement.

Welcome to my new website

immunofluorescent labelingI just started this website so please be patient as I get around to posting some interesting information! In the meantime take a look at this laser scanning confocal microscopy image of a dividing sea urchin embryo labeled for microtubules in green, the kinesin related protein KRP110 in red and DNA in blue. Note that the microtubule motor KRP110 defines the edges of the constricting contractile ring and that the microtubules reach all the way out to the cortex of this large cell.  My summer 2012 research students R. Matthew Weeks and Mesrob Yeterian helped generate this image using a method called immunofluorescent labeling.  This research project was focused on the roles of microtubules and KRP110 in generating cell division in sea urchin eggs that have been artificially activated.  See the following publication from my lab for more context about this project.

Henson, J.H., C.A. Fried*, M.K. McClellan*, J. Ader*, J.E. Davis*, R. Oldenbourg, and C.R. Simerly (2008).  Bipolar, anastral spindle development in artificially-activated sea urchin eggs.  Developmental Dynamics 237:1348-1358. (* indicates Dickinson undergraduate coauthor)