Research in the Department of Cell Biology is focused on understanding molecular mechanisms of gene regulation in eukaryotic cells. Using mammalian cells, yeast, viruses, fruit flies and transgenic mice, we are investigating mechanisms of DNA replication and repair, control of the cell cycle and apoptosis, roles for transcriptional regulation and chromatin structure in gene expression, RNA processing, intracellular trafficking, membrane fusion and budding, mechanisms of generating antibody diversity, and the functions of cell surface sugars.
In the News
Dr. Barbara Birshtein has been selected as this year’s recipient of the LaDonne H. Shulman Award for Excellence in Teaching. The recipient of this award is nominated and selected by the graduate students as a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary skill in teaching and mentoring.
Of special note: This is the second time that Barbara has received this award!
Congratulations to Barbara on this very appropriate recognition of her dedication and teaching and mentoring skills by the graduate students.
Election to fellow is an honor bestowed upon American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) members by their peers. In 2014, 401 AAAS members were awarded this honor because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Among the six AECOM faculty members who received this distinction, three are members of the Department of Cell Biology.
Margaret Kielian, Ph.D. – Elected for distinguished contributions to the field of virology, particularly for studies on the alphavirus and flavivirus membrane fusion proteins and on virus entry and exit. Dr. Kielian is Professor of Cell Biology and Samuel H. Golding Chair in Microbiology.
Richard Kitsis, M.D. – Elected for distinguished contributions to fundamental and translational aspects of cell death, particularly for originating and driving the field of cell death in the heart. Dr. Kitsis is Professor of Medicine and of Cell Biology, the Dr. Gerald and Myra Dorros Chair in Cardiovascular Disease and Director of the Wilf Family Cardiovascular Research Institute at Einstein and attending physician, cardiology at Montefiore Medical Center.
Robert Singer, Ph.D. – Elected for distinguished contributions to the development and application of imaging technologies and insights into the kinetics and spatial distributions of single mRNAs in living cells. Dr. Singer is Professor and Co-Chair of Anatomy & Structural Biology, Professor of Neuroscience and of Cell Biology, Co-Director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and of the Integrated Imaging Program, and the Harold and Muriel Block Chair in Anatomy & Structural Biology.
From the Schildkraut Lab - Simone G. Calderano, William C. Drosopoulos, Marina M. Quaresma, Catarina A. Marques, Settapong Kosiyatrakul, Richard McCulloch, Carl L. Schildkraut, Maria Carolina Elias. Single molecule analysis of Trypanosoma brucei DNA replication dynamics. Nucleic Acids Research 2015 Mar 11,43:5.
• This study presents a global analysis of the DNA replication in Trypanosoma brucei, establishing for the first time, replication fork rates of both bloodstream and procyclic forms of the organism and provides the first evidence of the presence of dormant replication origins in the T. brucei genome.
From the Skoultchi and Fyodorov Labs - Kavi H, Lu X, Xu N, Bartholdy BA, Vershilova E, Skoultchi AI, Fyodorov DV.A Genetic Screen and Transcript Profiling Reveal a Shared Regulatory Program for Drosophila Linker Histone H1 and Chromatin Remodeler CHD1. G3 (Bethesda). 2015 Jan 27. pii: g3.115.016709. doi: 10.1534/g3.115.016709.
• This study describes a genetic screen that identifies 61 enhancers and suppressors of the Drosophila histone H1 gene His1, including a mis-expression allele of Chd1 that encodes a chromatin remodeling enzyme CHD1.
From the Scharff Lab - Lirong Wei, Richard Chahwan, Shanzhi Wang, Xiaohua Wang, Phuong T. Pham, Myron F. Goodman, Aviv Bergman, Matthew D. Scharff and Thomas MacCarthy. Overlapping hotspots in CDRs are critical sites for V region diversification. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 2. pii: 201500788. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 25646473
• Overlapping hotspot motifs allow AID to focus the hypermutation of antibody genes on sites required to create high affinity broadly cross neutralizing antibodies.
From the Scharff Lab - Xiaohua Wang, Manxia Fan, Susan Kalis, Lirong Wei and Matthew D. Scharff. A source of the single-stranded DNA substrate for activation-induced deaminase during somatic hypermutation. Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 13;5:4137. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5137. PMID: 24923561
• The somatic mutation of immunoglobulin genes is associated with pausing of transcription, prolongation of initiation and perhaps an increase in prematuration termination regulated by Spt5.
From the Fyodorov and Keogh labs - Alexander V. Emelyanov, Joshua Rabbani, Monika Mehta, Elena Vershilova, Michael C. Keogh and Dmitry V. Fyodorov. Drosophila TAP/p32 is a core histone chaperone that cooperates with NAP-1, NLP, and nucleophosmin in sperm chromatin remodeling during fertilization. Genes & Development 28: 2027-2040.
• This work identifies in vitro and in vivo four Drosophila histone chaperones (NAP-1, NLP, Nph and TAP/p32) as the major factors of protamine eviction that convert protamine-based sperm chromatin into nucleosome-based somatic cell chromatin during fertilization.