Rice University

Events at Rice

Thesis Defense

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Speaker: David Tsao
Doctoral Candidate

Investigations of macromolecular complex functions in living cells

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
1:00 PM  to 3:00 PM

801  BioScience Research Collaborative

Characterizing the collective functions of cytoskeletal motors is critical to understanding mechanisms that regulate the internal organization of eukaryotic cells as well as the roles various transport defects play in human diseases. While in vitro assays employing synthetic motor complexes have generated important insights, dissecting collective motor functions within living cells still remains challenging. Here, we show that the protein heterodimerization switches FKBP-rapalog-FRB can be harnessed in engineered COS-7 cells to compare the collective responses of kinesin-1 and myosinVa motors to changes in motor number and cargo size. The dependence of cargo velocities, travel distances and position noise on these parameters suggest that multiple myosinVa motors can cooperate more productively than collections of kinesins in COS-7 cells. In contrast to observations with kinesin-1 motors, the velocities and run lengths of peroxisomes driven by multiple myosinVa motors are found to increase with increasing motor density, but are relatively insensitive to the higher loads associated with transporting large peroxisomes in the viscoelastic environment of the COS-7 cell cytoplasm. Moreover, these distinctions appear to be derived from the different sensitivities of kinesin-1 and myosinVa velocities and detachment rates to forces at the single-motor level. The collective behaviors of certain processive motors, like myosinVa, may therefore be more readily tunable and have more substantial roles in intracellular transport regulatory mechanisms compared to those of other cytoskeletal motors. IQGAP1 is a large, multi-domain scaffold that helps orchestrate cell signaling and cytoskeletal mechanics by controlling interactions among a spectrum of receptors, signaling intermediates, and cytoskeletal proteins. While this coordination is known to impact cell morphology, motility, cell adhesion, and vesicular traffic, among other functions, the spatiotemporal properties and regulatory mechanisms of IQGAP1 have not been fully resolved. Herein, we describe a series of super-resolution and live-cell imaging analyses that identified a role for IQGAP1 in the regulation of an actin cytoskeletal shell surrounding a novel membranous compartment that localizes selectively to the basal cortex of polarized epithelial cells (MCF-10A). We also show that IQGAP1 appears to both stabilize the actin coating and constrain its growth. Loss of compartmental IQGAP1 initiates a disassembly mechanism involving rapid and unconstrained actin polymerization around the compartment and dispersal of its vesicle contents. Together, these findings suggest IQGAP1 achieves this control by harnessing both stabilizing and antagonistic interactions with actin. They also demonstrate the utility of these compartments for image-based investigations of the spatial and temporal dynamics of IQGAP1 within endosome-specific actin networks. Using these endosomes as a model system of IQGAP1 regulation and function, in our next investigation we express a series of IQGAP1 domain mutations in MCF10A cells that allow us to investigate the effects of removing or enhancing specific IQGAP1 interactions while otherwise preserving the overall regulatory network surrounding IQGAP1 activities. The strength, directionality, and timing of interactions between IQGAP1 domains and endosomal cytoskeleton and membrane constituents are evaluated via time-lapse imaging of endosomal dynamics. We identify IQGAP1 states in which domain-level interactions with F-actin and Exo70 are coordinated through the GRD. Our findings are summarized in a proposed model of IQGAP1 domain activation and coordination.

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