1. Home
  2. /
  3. Research Projects
  4. /
  5. Current Research Projects
  6. /
  7. Unveiling the BAR “code”...

Unveiling the BAR “code” of srGAPs through phospholipid targeting, curvature preferences and actin regulation in the control of cellular protrusions

Investigator: Michael Henderson, Ph.D., Bowdoin College

Project Summary

Cell shape changes, including the formation of highly curved finger-like filopodia, mediate processes like migration, tissue closure, and synaptic maturation. The mechanisms governing filopodia formation must involve the precise control of components at the cell membrane, particularly orchestrated by membrane-deforming Bin/Amphiphysin/Rvs (BAR) proteins. Among these, Slit-Roundabout (Robo) GTPase-activating proteins (srGAPs) are prominently expressed in neuronal tissue where they regulate filopodia and dendritic spine dynamics. Utilizing in vitro reconstitution experiments and cellular models, this research will investigate srGAP phospholipid binding affinities and their assembly dynamics on model membranes, shedding light on their structure-defined curvature preference. Additionally, the research will elucidate how srGAPs regulate Rho GTPase pathways and actin polymerization for filopodia formation. By engaging research-active undergraduates, the project will train the next generation of scientists while advancing our understanding of the roles that BAR proteins play in cellular physiology and disease pathogenesis.

Dr. Henderson at Bowdoin College