Lauren P. Jackson

Structure and mechanism in membrane trafficking

Our research focuses on the structures and functions of proteins and protein complexes involved in cellular transport, or trafficking. Trafficking pathways facilitate a variety of crucial processes, including receptor recycling and degradation, signaling and its attenuation, membrane remodeling, and lytic granule secretion by the immune system. Viruses and other pathogens frequently hijack these pathways to gain access to cells. We use a variety of structural, biochemical, and biophysical techniques in order to understand the mechanisms by which cells control their internal transport logistics and ensure key transmembrane protein cargoes are moved to the correct spatial location in a timely fashion. We focus especially on understanding details of vesicle formation and cargo sorting in both ER-Golgi and post-Golgi transport pathways. A breakdown in these processes can lead to unregulated signalling and transport, and thus ultimately to diseases like various cancers and prion diseases. Studying the transport mechanisms of transmembrane proteins allows us to understand fundamental cell biology, including pathways seized by pathogens, and to investigate potential therapeutic treatments for faulty processes that drive disease.

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