Cellular division, wound healing, chemotaxis, neuronal outgrowth all rely on dynamic shape change and adaptability afforded via an ever-changing cellular scaffold termed the cytoskeleton. We examine two core components of the cytoskeleton: microtubules and actin filaments in concert with the molecules that regulate them and facilitate communication between them. We employ a combined approach of high resolution time-dependent imaging in parallel with atomic resolution protein crystallography to understand, at multiple scales, the molecular processes that control cytoskeletal dynamics. Of particular interest are the +TIP protein families that dynamically localize to growing microtubule plus ends where they regulate microtubule dynamics, communicate with the actin cytoskeleton, capture kinetochores and engage the cell cortex under polarity-based cues. Investigations proceed through three key areas.
Interleaving these efforts, we aim to test, correlate and bridge information gained from the cellular, sub-cellular and atomic levels. Of particular interest are the aberrant cytoskeletal molecular mechanisms at play in neuronal disorders and cancer biology.