Claire WalczakDepartment of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA F1000 Faculty Member (since 17 September 2002)
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Indiana University
Executive Director, Indiana University Light Microscopy Imaging Center
PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1993
My lab is interested in the mechanisms of mitosis. Because of the global importance of this event, the cell has devised an elegant macromolecular machine, the mitotic spindle, to ensure accurate chromosome segregation. Our goals include understanding how a cell builds a mitotic spindle, how the cell segregates chromosomes on the spindle, and how these processes are regulated during mitosis. Understanding this process is important because blocking cell division is a major approach in cancer chemotherapy.
Of prime importance during spindle assembly are the regulated dynamics of microtubules that occur during interphase and mitosis. We use a combination of in vitro assays for the regulation of microtubule dynamics with purified proteins, reconstitution of spindle formation using meiotic extracts from Xenopus eggs, and high-resolution live and fixed cell imaging of microtubule dynamics and organization in living cells in culture. This approach provides a framework to further decipher the molecular mechanism of spindle assembly and chromosome segregation. We ask questions regarding the multiple physiological roles of microtubules in cells, how their dynamics are regulated by cellular proteins, and how the activity of microtubule dynamics regulators are controlled temporally and spatially within cells. Our ultimate goals are to identify new molecular targets that can be used to treat a variety of diseases in which altered microtubule activity is critical and to develop drugs that can target these regulators.
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