Holly Goodson, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biophysics in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, presents her research project, "What Aspects of Biology Are Predictable?" to an interdisciplinary group of scholars, artists, and scientists comprised of fellows, guest faculty, and students.
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Holly Goodson's laboratory uses multifaceted approaches including biochemistry, molecular biology, and computational biology to address cell biological questions. They focus on the microtubule cytoskeleton – the dynamic network of protein fibers that pulls the chromosomes apart at mitosis, acts as “railroad tracks” for intracellular transport, and organizes the cytoplasm. Questions that interest her lab include: how does this network assemble? What governs its dynamic turnover? How do other parts of the cell (organelles, chromosomes, the cell cortex) interact with microtubules? Topics of particular interest include microtubule plus-end tracking proteins (+TIPs), a network of diverse proteins that dynamically track growing microtubule plus ends, as well as the disease-associated proteins Tau (Alzheimer’s) and stathmin (cancer).
A second long-term interest in the Goodson laboratory is molecular evolution. While establishing the history of protein families is an important goal in itself, their primary interest has been in using the history of a protein family to help understand how its members work now. They use nature’s mutagenesis (the set of related sequences present in the genome databases) and combine it with bioinformatics techniques such as homology modeling to perform structure/function analysis. Recently they have taken advantage of unique continuous culture systems developed for a biosensor project to begin a new project studying the process of evolution in vitro and in silico. Her papers have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Biomedical Optics Express, the Journal of Cell Biology, and the Journal of Molecular Biology, among others.