our research interests

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Our lab, situated in the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MBB) at Simon Fraser University (SFU), seeks to understand several aspects of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton, a dynamic and extensive cellular protein network composed mostly of actin filaments and tubulin-containing microtubules.

One area of research we are pursuing is to decipher the roles that molecular chaperones play in the folding of actin and tubulin proteins. Three players of particular relevance include the chaperonin CCT, and two cofactors, the jellyfish-shaped prefoldin chaperone and the phosducin-like proteins 2 and 3.

Another focus of our studies involves identifying and characterising proteins found within the cilium, an evolutionarily ancient microtubule-based organelle. Using the nematode C. elegans, we study intraflagellar transport, a kinesin- and dynein-dependent transport process necessary for the formation and maintenance of the complex ciliary structure. Cilia are found in a large proportion of unicellular organisms, and in humans, motile and non-motile (primary) cilia play important roles in moving fluids or sensing the extracellular environment. As part of these studies, we probe the molecular basis of some human disorders that arise from ciliary dysfunction, including Bardet-Biedl Syndrome and Meckel syndrome. Genetic disorders involving cilia are characterised by a wide range of ailments, such as obesity, kidney and heart anomalies, blindness, and neurosensory impairment. We are also attempting to understand at the molecular how cilia modulate signaling processes that affect development. Also of interest to us is how proteins associated with cilia function may participate in the intracellular trafficking of proteins at the centrosome, the microtubule organising centre of cells.

To learn more, visit the research section.

research highlights

Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2011
Discovery of novel human disease (ciliopathy) gene, TMEM237

J. Cell Biology 2011
Discovery of role for eight known or suspected ciliopathy proteins in early ciliogenesis and establishment of a ciliary gate

PLoS Genetics 2010
Discovery of novel protein required for the trafficking of a guanylate cyclase, required for cGMP signalling

Trends Cell Biol. 2010
Close association between cAMP and cGMP signalling pathways and cilia

J. Biol. Chem. 2010
Structure and function of the small GTPase ARL6 implicated in Bardet-Biedl syndrome

J. Cell Science 2009
Meckel syndrome 1 (MKS1) and two related proteins functionally interact at the base of cilia to control cell signaling

EMBO J. 2008
A proteomic and genomic study identifies the chaperonin CCT interaction network and its link to a third cytoskeletal system, the septin ring.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2007
We report that C. elegans BBS mutant animals have defects in sensing physiological and noxious (nociceptive) temperatures, implicating cilia in thermosensation (see cover)

Mol. Biol. Cell 2007
Global analysis of C. elegans intraflagellar transport

Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2006
Convergent evolution of binding sites in chaperones (review)

Mol. Biol. Cell (2 papers) and J. Cell Biol. 2006
Novel components and mechanism of intraflagellar transport

Trends Genet. 2006
We review and compile a ciliary proteome; this resource is at ciliome.com

Nat. Genet. 2006
Novel centrosomal protein mutated in Joubert syndrome

Nature 2005
BBS proteins coordinate the intraflagellar transport kinesin motors

Curr. Biol. 2005
Functional genomics of the cilium, a sensory organelle

Nat. Genet. 2004
A small GTPase is associated with Bardet-Biedl syndrome

Genes Dev. 2004
BBS proteins are required for cilia function and intraflagellar transport

Nat. Genet. 2004
BBS4 is required for intracellular transport and microtubule anchoring

Nature 2003
Bardet-Biedl syndrome is caused by basal body/cilia dysfunction

For the full list and abstracts, browse through our publications.

our team

Our lab is home to a multitalented and dynamic group of people with a wide variety of research interests. Information on everyone in the lab and pictures can be found in the team section.

our funding

Our research has been generously funded by a variety of Provincial, National and International biomedical and basic science research agencies: