Daisy Duan, a second year MB&B student and member of Anthony Koleske’s group, recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships Program (GRFP) fellowship.
According to the NSF GRFP webpage, the fellowship “recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.” The fellowship provides five years of support, including a $34,000 annual stipend for three years and $12,000 to the institution.
With the fellowship, Duan seeks to elucidate the mechanism by which Abl2 tyrosine kinase impacts microtubule dynamics. Microtubule growth and shrinkage are tightly coordinated by microtubule-binding proteins to ensure proper cell development and function. Abl2 is an essential regulator of cellular morphogenesis and it directly interacts with the cytoskeleton.
According to Duan, it was only recently discovered that Abl2 acts independent of its kinase activity to bind to microtubules and promote elongation and stability.
“[I] will investigate how Abl2 regulates MT dynamics by identifying Abl2 binding sites for the MT and tubulin dimers and elucidate how Abl2 binds to growing MTs using biochemical and biophysical techniques such as TIRF-FM,” Duan said.
Findings produced by support from the fellowship are intended to elucidate the impact Abl2 and microtubule interactions have on cell shape and motility, which has broad implications in health and biology.
Fellow Biochemistry, Quantitative Biology, Biophysics and Structural Biology classmate Jeremy Moore, now in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology in the Emonet group, also received an NSF GRFP fellowship. Further details on the fellowship and selection criteria can be found on the NSF webpage.
By Brigitte Naughton