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Congratulations to Xin Gan, a BC graduate student in the laboratory of Steve Gould, whose work “identification of an inhibitory budding signal that blocks the release of HIV particles and exosome/microvesicle proteins” was published in Molecular Biology of the Cell (22(6): 817-830). Xin’s work focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which HIV buds from cells; more specifically on the cis-acting elements in HIV-Gag that control budding from cells. Xin found that HIV-GAG has an inhibitory budding signal (IBS), that prevents association of the exosomes and microvesicles (containing HIV-GAG) with VPS4B, a component of the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT). These and other data suggest that regulation of the IBS plays a key role in the HIV life cycle. 

Congratulations to Li He, a BC Graduate student in Denise Montell’s laboratory, who recently won the Meta Strand Young Investigator Award. Li’s work focused on the regulation of tissue elongation using Drosophila follicle cells as a model organ. Using a live cell imaging Li demonstrated that follicle cells undergo a series of directional oscillating contractions that is dependent on myosin accumulation, as well as actin, the small GTPase Rho, and the kinase ROCK. Notably, part of this work was published in Nature Cell Biology in 2010 (12(12), 1133-42). 

Congratulations to Wei Shen, a BC Graduate student in Craig Montell’s Laboratory, whose work on “rhodopsin in temperature discrimination in Drosophila” was recently published in Science (2011, 331(6022): 1333-6). Wei demonstrated that rhodopsin, a visual pigment known for its role in visual sensation, is essential for Drosophila larvae to sense their ideal temperature (18oC) over other comfortable but not ideal temperatures (19-24oC). rhodopsin is coupled to a G-protein coupled receptor whose activation ultimately leads to the activation of the TRPA1 channel. This work leads to some interesting questions, including “does rhodopsin act in temperature sensation in other organisms?” For more information see: “rhodopsin as thermosensor” (Science, 2011 331(6022):1272-1273) and the Science Signaling Podcast on March 15th of 2011. 


Congratulations to Beiyi Shen, in the laboratory of Steve Gould, whose work “Protein Targeting to Exosomes/Microvesicles by Plasma Membrane Anchors” was recently published (JBC, 2011, 286: 14383-14395). Beiyi’s work focuses on understanding the cis-acting elements that target proteins to exosomes and microvesicles (EMVs) to garner a greater understanding of the mechanisms involved in retrovirus budding. Beiyi and co-workers demonstrated that several different types of membrane anchors (PIP2 binding domain and myristoylation) could target highly oligomeric proteins to EMVs. These and other data support a model in which retrovirus budding is a form of EMV biogenesis.


Congratulations to Johns Hopkins BC student Li He for winning 1st place in the American Society for Cell Biology 2010 Celldance Image Contest!!!!

He L, Wang X, Tang HL, Montell DJ. (2010) Tissue elongation requires oscillating contractions of a basal actomyosin network. Nat Cell Biol. Nov 21.

Confocal micrograph of a stage 10 Drosophila egg chamber stained with DAPI (blue) to detect nuclei, GFP-paxillin (green) which labels focal adhesions and rhodamine phalloidin (red), which labels actin filaments.



Congratulations to BC student Li He on the following publication:

Wang X.* , He L. , Wu Y.I.* , Hahn K.M. & Montell D.J. Light-mediated activation reveals a key role for Rac in collective guidance of cell movement in vivo. Nature Cell Biology, 12, 591–597 (2010). * Co- first authors.

In this publication Li He and colleagues report that localized activation of Rac in a single cell is sufficient for collective migration of cells in vivo and that guidance signals finely tune Rac activity, whereas Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signalling maintains communication between the cells. This paper was highlighted by the Faculty of 1000 and the Cell Migration gateway:



Click to watch them steer the border cells with a laser




We would like to welcome our newest members of the Biological Chemistry Graduate Program.

Hae Seung Chung received both her BS  and MS from Seoul National University.  She has been heavily involved in organic chemical synthesis.

Jennifer Harr received her BS from Sonoma St. University and her MS from The University of the Pacific.  She has been working with Karen Reddy on specialized subdomains in the nucleus and will be staying in the Reddy Lab for her PhD thesis.

Yi Zhu received his BS from Tsinghua University, and is currently a graduate student at Penn State. He has worked on topics ranging from regulation of flagellar length in protozoans to neurotransmitter receptors and epigenetic regulation of transcription factor binding.




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