Stachowiak Receives NIH R35 Grant to Study Protein Networks as Drivers of Cellular Membrane Remodeling

January 29, 2021

Dr. Jeanne Stachowiak has received a new five-year $3 million R35 grant from the National Institutes of Health to research protein networks as synergistic drivers of cellular membrane remodeling.

Membrane curvature is a necessary process for many cellular activities. Defects in a cell’s membrane curvature play a role in most human diseases, including altered recycling of receptors in cancer and diabetes and hijacking of vesicle traffic during virus replication.

Knowledge of the basic molecular mechanisms that drive membrane remodeling is essential to understanding cellular physiology and human disease. Our cells contain many proteins, some of which are structured in shapes like crescents or wedges, and others, which are intrinsically disordered. Much of the current research on membrane curvature focuses on structured proteins, and while this work is invaluable, it overlooks that membrane remodeling proteins also contain large intrinsically disordered domains.

This new grant will help continue support for Stachowiak and her team’s pioneering work in support of their hypothesis that disordered protein networks are essential drivers of membrane remodeling in the cell. The funding will help answer questions about how protein networks initiate remodeling events and how they behave afterwards. The research will ultimately provide more insights into human disease and a blueprint for the study of protein networks at membrane surfaces throughout the cell.