Research Summary

Co-ordination and control of the phosphoinositide cycle during cell signaling

My long-term scientific interest is to understand cellular communication mediated by lipid molecules generated by phosphatidylinositol metabolism. Phosphoinositide signals provide molecular control for key sub-cellular processes such as membrane remodelling, cytoskeletal function, transcription and translation. Through these processes, this signalling pathway orchestrates basic cellular behaviours such as cell division, shape changes, polarized movement and cell death and this plays a key role in a number of physiological processes including early embryogenesis, lymphocyte development and function as well as neuronal activity.  The overall goal of our work is to understand how the architecture this signalling cascade is designed to deliver optimal physiological outputs.

Our principal model is the fruit fly Drosophila; the goal is to discover key principles of signal transduction that are likely to be conserved during evolution but are experimentally more tractable in Drosophila. It is hoped that in the medium term, our analysis in Drosophila will inform studies of equivalent signalling pathways in mammalian models with more immediate biomedical relevance.

Figure Legend: Drosophila photoreceptors utilize G-protein coupled phosphatidylinositol 4,5 bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] turnover to transduce the detection of light. The image depicts live imaging of plasma membrane PI(4,5)P2 turnover from intact Drosophila eyes. We use a combination of molecular genetics, live-cell imaging and electrophysiology to study this signalling process.