The Walczak Lab

Indiana University Bloomington

Model

Our lab is interested in the fundamental mechanisms that cells use to accurately distribute their genetic material to the two daughter cells. Defects in this process lead to aneuploidy and genomic instability, which are hallmarks of cancer. Using a combination of biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, structural biology and high resolution imaging techniques we ask fundamental questions about protein function in mitosis.

Mitosis is carried out by the cellular machine called the mitotic spindle, which is composed of microtubules and associated proteins. The dynamics of these microtubules are critical for spindle function and are the targets of several anti-neoplastic agents that are front-line treatment for multiple types of cancers. However, side effects can be severe and result in discontinuation of treatment. Thus, identifying predictors for paclitaxel-resistance and reducing side effects are of high clinical importance. One avenue for development of better taxane-like compounds is to identify regulators of the microtubule cytoskeleton, whose activity is restricted to dividing cells. To this end we are developing screening assays that can be used to identify new drugs that target these microtubule regulators.