University of Dundee

EASTBIO: Cilia and polarity at the intersection of membranes and proteins

The regulation of polarized trafficking processes in cell polarity is important for the organization of cell membranes into structures such as cilia, an antenna on most cells. Understanding this regulation means integrating dozens of factors and signalling pathways known to be important across the regulatory network. Therefore, it is of critical importance to develop an approach that enables analysis of the comparative effects of each component in the system.

In this project, we aim to understand how membranes and their regulatory proteins have a role in the genesis and maintenance of polarity and cilia. We hypothesize that the membrane composition will be highly regulated with respect to polarity and cilia maintenance. To test this hypothesis, we will adapt high-throughput technologies and fluorescence to new and published membrane biophysical methods, alongside emerging technologies such as nanobodies. In synergy with cell biology methods, we will exploit mechanisms for isolating and manipulating membranes, including their curvatures. This interdisciplinary approach will enable us to determine how a large number of factors in the system, including phospholipids, small GTPases, and membrane proteins, affect the machinery dedicated to polarized trafficking.

This project offers excellent training opportunities in a variety of techniques well suited for future careers in industry or academia. We are uniquely suited in a training environment rich in cell and developmental biology, providing ample opportunity for further personal scientific development. We collaborate with developmental cell biologists in Dundee and elsewhere in the UK, and with physicists where applicable to develop mechanistic models for biology. Training and mentoring of students and staff are a priority for the group.

For more information on work in the Murray lab please see: