This 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 actin, Arp3, 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.