The broad research interest of my lab is in dissecting molecular mechanisms of essential membrane-associated cellular events in eukaryotic cell development.

Autophagy in Yeast Meiosis

Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway. Numerous human diseases, such as cancer, infectious and developmental diseases have been linked to aberrant autophagy. Besides its disease relevance, autophagy is a unique system for investigating the basic principles of organellar biogenesis because, unlike many organelles that are rich in membrane and protein components (endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria etc), autophagosomes are relatively simple. Autophagosomal biogenesis responds to a variety of internal and external signals, making fine genetic or chemical manipulation possible for understanding molecular mechanisms and defining new targets for disease treatment. Canonically, nascent autophagosomes fuse with lysosomes to deliver their cargos for degradation. However, under certain circumstances, autophagosomes appear to also have degradation-independent functions, for example, protein secretion. We propose that the canonical and non-canonical roles of autophagosomes co-operate to guide cells through critical stages of development, such as meiosis, when the cell is programmed to undergo drastic cellular content degradation and structural remodeling. Our studies will shed light directly on autophagy functions in eukaryotic gametogenesis, the production of sperm (spermatogenesis) and oocytes (oogenesis), and more broadly, on how the autophagic machinery rearranges membranes for crucial aspects of development.

Small Proteins (SPs)

Proteins arising from small ORFs that are substantially smaller than ~50 residues are considered as small proteins (SPs) which historically and literally tend to be ignored. Recent studies, however, suggest that hundreds or even thousands of SPs were synthesized in bacteria and eukaryotes with functions implicated in diverse processes such as spore formation, cell division, movement of molecules across the membrane, enzymatic activity and signal transduction. SPs are small and prone to interact with their targets, often on membrane, to modulate their activities, therefore with great potential in clinical application. We are interested in elucidation of molecular mechanism related to SPs: the targeting machinery, their structure nature, interactions with other molecules as well as their turn over in eukaryotes.;

Techniques:  Yeast genetics; Live cell imaging; Electronic microscopy; Proteomic analyses of protein interactomes; Protein biochemistry; Biochemical reconstitution of purified proteins and lipids; in vivo protein labeling