The organization and dynamics of the cytoskeleton underlie major pro-oncogenic processes, including cell motility and deregulated cell division. While the actin cytoskeleton is considered a major player in cell motility, and microtubules are central for cell division, accumulating evidence show that the two cytoskeletal systems often work together in core cellular processes.
Our projects aim at identifying and characterizing protein complexes that control the dynamic properties of microtubules, also exploring the underlying functional crosstalk with actin, and how altogether they impact fundamental processes, such as tumor cell motility or mitosis. We also investigate how septin polymers, more poorly known constituents of the cytoskeleton, interact with actin filaments and microtubules and affect their organization and function. To achieve our objectives, we implement global approaches to systematically define the molecular environment of proteins of interest (i.e. “interactomics”); molecular and structural approaches to determine how they form supramolecular complexes; and high-resolution and real-time microscopy, to investigate their impact at the subcellular level.
Our ultimate goal is to pinpoint key regulators of the cytoskeleton that might represent targets for novel therapeutic strategies targeting tumor growth and metastasis.