Virtual lab reunion instead of ASCB dinner

We mourned the lost opportunity to connect with former MDX lab members, which we normally do at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. But we saw even more people than we would have that way, by holding a reunion on Gather! It was fun to introduce new and old members, catch up on what people are doing now, and meet the babies!
At ASCB itself, Jenna, Michael, and Jack presented posters, and Daniel presented an invited talk (for the 4th year in a row!).

Outreach goes (stays) virtual

Covid silver lining: we can readily share our enthusiasm for research via zoom and Google classrooms! Amy connected with K-12 students via Skype-a-Scientist, and presented a seminar at a nearby HBCU, NC A&T. Both audiences had abundant thoughtful questions! Amy was enriched by the opportunity to connect.

Former undergrad Adhham Zaatri & post-doc Jenna Perry post preprint

Have you ever wondered how the chirality of minuscule cellular components is manifest at the cell- or organism level? Adhham and Jenna found that the septins are required for the cortical rotation that occurs with consistent handedness, in early anaphase in the C. elegans zygote. While the septins are required for rotation to occur at all, the formin CYK-1 is required for the consistency of handedness and persistence of cortical flow. Check it out on BioRxiv and look out for it in a favorite journal soon!

Technician Coleman Breen starts grad school in Wisconsin

Coleman started in the lab several years ago, via the Federal Work Study program, and quickly made key contributions to ongoing work on contractile oscillations. He applied lessons from coursework in Statistics and Operations Research and taught us all a lot. The summer before his senior year he was awarded a prestigious SURF summer research fellowship to work full time in the lab. During that time, he learned the entire experimental workflow, culturing worms, dissecting zygotes, and acquiring image data on the confocal. He worked in the lab briefly after graduating, and recently moved to the University of Wisconsin at Madison for graduate studies in Biostatistics. We miss him and wish him well!

Marine Biological Labs summer virtual programming (MVP!)

With NIH/NHLBI’s Clare Waterman and UNC’s Amy Gladfelter, Amy co-organized a Nikon-sponsored Cytoskeleton seminar series for the Marine Biological Labs’ MBL Virtual Programming in July. On three consecutive Tuesday evenings, we enjoyed excellent talks and massive, global turn-outs to hear our speakers: Princeton’s Sabine Petry, NIH’s Jadranka Loncarek, and MIT’s Lindsay Case. Lively Q&As followed. And each session began with the most charming, heartstring-pulling video walk-through of the MBL, for all of us missing this scientific homeland. Check it out!

Research Asst Prof Michael Werner & former student Katie Rehain Bell publish in MBoC

Katie and Michael found that the negative regulators of contractility Katie characterized in the stable syncytial germline are also enriched on the dynamic cytokinetic ring. In this paper, they report how this kinase-containing heterodimeric complex is recruited to the cytokinetic ring downstream of the RhoA effector anillin. The dimer (GCK-1/CCM-3) promotes levels of the RhoA GAP RGA-3/4 in the cytokinetic ring, limiting RhoA activity and contractility. Interestingly, GCK-1/CCM-3 also reduce RhoA levels in cortical patches during prophase pulsed contractility, but do not change the period of RhoA pulsing. Check it out!

Jack Linehan joins the lab – and is funded!

Jack Linehan is starting his second year at UNC, and is pursuing his PhD in the aMDX lab after rotating with Amy and with Paul. He decided to join the QBio program in Biology! And he won a spot on the MiBio NIH T32! Jack comes from a physics background, and also worked as a tech in a zebrafish cell migration lab. He has thrown himself into several projects bringing his insights and sponging up new biology and physics.