When: Apr 25 2024 @ 3:00 PM
Where: Hodson 210

Title: “Protein phase separation regulates focal adhesion formation and function”

Abstract: Many biological molecules are capable of undergoing phase separation to form membraneless compartments termed condensates. Research in my lab is focused on understanding how phase separation regulates signal transduction at the plasma membrane and how specific molecular features impact the emergent chemical and material properties of condensates. We’ve found that the phase separation of cytosolic adaptor proteins promotes the formation of focal adhesions, micron-sized signaling hubs for integrin receptors. A central function of focal adhesions is to transmit mechanical forces, and we hypothesize that the specific composition of focal adhesions tunes the emergent material properties of focal adhesions. To test this, we have developed a biochemical reconstitution of focal adhesions where we can directly change the composition and measure the effects on viscosity and surface tension. Comparing our in vitro experiments with cellular assays allows us to determine how these emergent material properties may impact cell behavior. Through our investigation of focal adhesions, we have gained insight into the regulation of condensate composition, the ways in which membranes can influence phase separation, and how molecular activity may be regulated by phase separation.

Bio: Lindsay Case is an Assistant Professor of Biology at MIT and an extramural member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. She leads an interdisciplinary team of scientists investigating how the spatial organization of molecules on the plasma membrane controls cell signaling. She completed her PhD training in Cell Biology working with Clare Waterman at the National Institutes of Health where she used superresolution fluorescence microscopy to study integrin-based adhesion and the actin cytoskeleton. She completed postdoctoral training with Michael Rosen in the Department of Biophysics at UT Southwestern Medical Center where she studied biological phase separation. Her innovative research program has been recognized by the NIH New Innovator Award, the Air Force Young Investigator Program, the Searle Scholars Program, and the Kavli Frontiers of Science.

Website: https://biology.mit.edu/profile/lindsay-case/

Host: Yun Chen

Zoom: Meeting ID 955 8366 7779; Passcode 530803