Dr Natalia Bulgakova
Department of Biomedical Science
Brief career history:
The mechanism that attaches neighbouring cells in our body to each other is known as cell-cell adhesion. Recent work has demonstrated that cell-cell adhesion is also important for communication between the neighbouring cells to decide when to divide, migrate or die.
Our lab is interested to understand how cell-cell adhesion contributes to normal development of a whole organism. We focus on E-cadherin, a transmembrane protein that provides cell-cell adhesion between the epithelial cells. Using a combination of genetic assays, biochemistry and quantitative imaging techniques in Drosophila model system we study how E-cadherin functions in various developmental processes, for example cell neighbour exchange and tissue growth, and how it is regulated during development. In future, we aim to apply this knowledge about normal function of E-cadherin to treatment of medical conditions arising from defects in E-cadherin function such as epithelia-derived tumours.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Job Reference: UOS015718
Postgraduate PhD Opportunity
Regulation of interphase microtubules by actin cytoskeleton
Intracellular arrangement of microtubule cytoskeleton in interphase cells is diverse across tissues and cell types, ranging from radial patterns to parallel arrays. Aligned microtubules are a hallmark of specialized cell types with non-centrosomal microtubules, such as neuronal and epithelial cells. The microtubule alignment creates a structural scaffold for vectorial transport of different cargos, and therefore is crucial for cell polarity, cell shape, cell migration, and cell-cell communication.
Recently, we found that alignment of microtubules in epithelial cells is largely influenced by two factors. On the one hand, it is achieved by the response of growing microtubules to the geometric constraints of the cell. On the other hand, not all properties of microtubule organisation can be explained by cell geometry. Another type of cytoskeleton, actin, influences arrangement of microtubules, and therefore, their function in epithelial cells. We found that depolymerisation of actin cytoskeleton significantly changes microtubule alignment in Drosophila epithelial cells.
This project will address two related questions:
During the project progression, the student will receive training in a wide range of techniques including molecular biology, state-of-art microscopy (live imaging, super-resolution) and computational approaches. This project will be done in collaboration with applied mathematicians from the group of Dr. Lyubov Chumakova, University of Edinburg, who will support the findings by mathematical modelling. Altogether, the outcomes of this project will yield fundamental knowledge about regulation of microtubule cytoskeleton, which is relevant to human biology and disease.
For further information about this project and how to apply, see our PhD Opportunities page:
- Gomez JM, Chumakova L, Bulgakova NA & Brown NH (2016) Microtubule organization is determined by the shape of epithelial cells. Nature Communications, 7. View this article in WRRO
- Bulgakova NA & Brown NH (2016) Drosophila p120-catenin is crucial for endocytosis of the dynamic E-cadherin-Bazooka complex. Journal of Cell Science, 129(3), 477-482. View this article in WRRO
- Bulgakova NA, Grigoriev I, Yap AS, Akhmanova A & Brown NH (2013) Dynamic microtubules produce an asymmetric E-cadherin–Bazooka complex to maintain segment boundaries. The Journal of Cell Biology, 201(6), 887-901. View this article in WRRO