"Up until now, no one has ever seen the way this protein oscillates back and forth throughout the cell," said Tyler Drake, a Lehigh graduate student and co-author of the paper. "Looking at a simple system like yeast may allow us to understand the principles behind growth in other cells."
The Lehigh team developed the mathematical model of this phenomenon by analyzing cell data collected by Maitreyi Das and Fulvia Verde at the University of Miami. Drake and Vavylonis used a Lehigh Class of 1968 Junior Faculty Fellowship and a Sigma Xi grant to visit the University, where they began to test their mathematical theory. According to the model, changes in abundance or activity of Cdc42, or of its regulators, can shift the system to more asymmetric or symmetric states. The model's conclusions were supported by biological observations of the Miami team, who genetically manipulated regulators of the protein and realized they could change cell shape and growth symmetry by adjusting Cdc42.
Vavylonis's research has for years explored the way the cellular cytoskeleton organizes and functions. In collaboration with biologists and computer scientists, his team uses physics to study, analyze, and model the physical properties of these adaptive biological materials.
|Contact: Jordan Reese|