Although the interactions between individual biological molecules are well understood, the mechanisms by which cellular organization and membrane receptor clustering are controlled at the micron scale largely remain elusive.
Recent studies in our lab have demonstrated that the podocyte protein Nephrin and its downstream signaling partners NCK and N-WASP exhibit sharp phase transition into liquid droplets via multivalent interactions in 3D solution.
Our labmates have reconstituted the clustering of Nephrin-NCK-N WASP on membranes by anchoring Nephrin on the supported lipid bilayers. My project follows from this work to examine how the density and dynamics of N WASP on the membrane affects its ability to activate the Arp2/3 complex and stimulate actin assembly. This work will quantitatively elucidate how polymerization and phase separation in a 2D environment can control downstream signaling.