Silvia Jansen, MS, PhD

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

My lab is studies how cells tune the physical properties of actin filaments to create networks with different architectures, turnover behaviors, and mechanical strengths. We address this question by studying how direct modification of actin, as well as remodeling by actin-binding proteins organize actin filaments into extensive branched networks, thick bundles or a mixture of both, that can exert, withstand or sense many different mechanical stimuli, and respond to different external cues. Genetic defects and altered expression of our actin-regulatory families of interest are linked to cancer, immunodeficiency, cardiovascular disorders, and neurological defects, emphasizing that these proteins and the actin networks they regulate, have a wide impact on cellular homeostasis, and that it is critical to get a better understanding of their underlying molecular mechanisms. For this purpose, we are using a multipronged approach encompassing single molecule TIRF microscopy, biochemical and biophysical assays, genetics, advanced co-culture systems and live-cell imaging.