Cell Division Lab - Junior Group

The junior group Cell Division Lab was established in 2016 and is headed by Marin Barisic

Microtubules are filamentous cytoskeletal components that contribute to various essential cellular functions, including cell division and migration.

In mitosis they form the mitotic spindle, a molecular machine responsible for equal distribution of chromosomes between the daughter cells. During interphase they regulate cellular polarity and contribute to all critical aspects of cell migration. Any anomalies in these two processes could either lead to aneuploidy - the abnormal number of chromosomes inside a cell that is characteristic to most of human cancers, or could facilitate metastasis.

Cell Division Lab - Junior Group

Cell division

The main building unit of microtubules – tubulin undergoes several different posttranslational modifications (PTMs), including acetylation, detyrosination, glutamylation and glycylation, which altogether establish the so-called “tubulin code”.

Some tubulin PTMs are altered in different cancers, such as prostate cancer, neuroblastoma and breast cancers with poor prognosis. Moreover, increased tubulin detyrosination is associated with facilitation of tumor reattachment and formation of metastasis, and the inhibitor of this modification, parthenolide, is currently being tested in clinical research.

Recently, we and others showed that tubulin PTMs strongly affect the functionality of different motor proteins involved in vesicular transport and mitotic chromosome movements.

Tubulin is a widely used cellular target of important anticancer agents such as the vinca alkaloids and taxanes. However, since microtubules are essential for neuronal transport, the side-effects of these agents appear in form of neuropathies and neurotoxicity in patients. Therefore, there is an increased interest in targeting other molecules involved in microtubule-related functions, such as different motor proteins and other microtubule-associated proteins.

Numerous motor proteins are indeed deregulated in cancers and inhibitors of some of them are involved in advanced phases of clinical trials.  Because of the impact of tubulin PTMs on the activity of motor proteins, as well as their association with cancer, we find this still underexplored field as a particularly attractive platform for the quest for potential cancer therapeutics.

Work in the Cell Division Laboratory is based on investigation of the molecular mechanisms of chromosomal and cytoskeletal dynamics, whose alterations during the cell cycle promote aneuploidy and metastasis, and consequently facilitate tumorigenesis.

Our research is highly based on investigation of

  • mechanisms of chromosome congression and segregation during mitosis
  • regulation of microtubule dynamics
  • newly discovered role of tubulin PTMs in cell division with a focus on the impact of these PTMs on the activity of cytoskeletal motor proteins and their roles in chromosomal and cellular movements

In order to learn more about these essential cellular processes, we use a variety of state-of-the-art molecular, cell-biological and biochemical methods and techniques with a special interest in advanced light microscopy.

Cell Division Lab - Junior Group

Members of the Cell Division Lab - June 2017

Members of the lab

Group leader:

Marin Barisic

Lab manager:

Martina Barisic

Postdocs:

Susana Eibes
Kirstine Lavrsen
Girish Rajendraprasad

PhD students:

Claudia Guasch Boldú
Yulia Steblyanko

Additional information

Scientific Publications