Research group Anne Spang
The mechanisms underlying protein and mRNA transport within the cell
Molecular transport processes responsible for the correct distribution of protein and mRNA molecules in the cell are important for cellular function. Understanding these processes may help drug development.
Correct intracellular localization of proteins and mRNA ensures cell survival. Specific localization of these molecules allows the development of multicellular organisms such as humans. Were this distribution to be disrupted, two identical cells would always result from cell division. No specific cells with different cell fates could be formed, and in turn, no organs would develop.
Basic principles of intracellular transport
Our work aims to understand the underlying mechanisms that enable precise protein and mRNA localization. In recent years, endocytosis, in particular the maturation from early-to–late endosomes became a focus in the lab, next to secretion. mRNA localization appears to be part of translational control and is therefore important for the temporal and spatial regulation of protein expression.
Baker's yeast and earthworms as model organisms
We use the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the earthworm Caenorhabditis elegans for our research. Since transport mechanisms are evolutionary conserved, we can extend our findings from the unicellular yeast to the multicellular worm.
Transport and disease
Many diseases are based on defects in the correct intracellular protein localization, i.e. the hereditary form of Alzheimer's disease, cystic fibrosis, lysosomal storage diseases and cancer. Moreover, pathogenic organisms highjack cell transport pathways to be effective. Better understanding of cell transport mechanisms may be useful in developing targeted drugs.