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The Department of Biomedicine

BBB Seminar: Peter Gunning

BioArchitecture, the actin cytoskeleton and a new therapeutic opportunity

Peter Gunning
Oncology Research Unit, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Architectural systems in biology have to provide a remarkable array of distinct structures with different functional characteristics, and at the same time exist in a state of dynamic equilibrium with the capacity to change depending on the needs of the cell/tissue. The actin cytoskeleton is one of three polymer systems which has evolved to satisfy this demand and has used the generation of protein isoforms as a remarkably effective strategy to diversify the functional characteristics of different actin filament populations. The talk will focus on the role of one of the core components of the actin filament, tropomyosin. The tropomyosins are used to regulate both the amount and functional capabilities of the different actin filament populations. Transgenic and knockout mice have revealed that tropomyosins regulate a wide range of physiological functions ranging from the motility, proliferation and architecture of cells to glucose uptake and tissue size. Anti-tropomyosin drugs have been developed to compromise the function of specific populations of actin filaments. This shows great promise for the treatment of both childhood and adult malignancies.

Host: Alexandre Micoulet, Department of Biomedicine