Dr Natalia Bulgakova

Natalia BulgakovaLecturer

Department of Biomedical Science
The University of Sheffield
Western Bank Sheffield S10 2TN
United Kingdom

Room: D43b Firth Court
Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 3649
Email: n.bulgakova@sheffield.ac.uk

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Brief career history:

  • 2015-present: Lecturer, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK
  • 2009-2015: Research associate, Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2007-2009: Research associate, Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany
  • 2004-2007: PhD, Institut für Genetic, Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

Research interests

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.

Full publications


Postdoctoral Research Associate

Job Reference: UOS015718
Closing Date: 20th April 2017 (Midnight)

See: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/jobs

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:

  1. What is the molecular mechanism of microtubule regulation by actin?
  2. What is the contribution of this regulation to the development of an organism?

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.


  • Gomez, J. M., Chumakova L., Bulgakova N. A., & Brown, N. H. (2016). Microtubule organization is determined by the shape of epithelial cells. Nature Communications, 7, 13172 doi: 10.1038/ncomms13172
  • Bulgakova, N. A., Grigoriev, I., Yap, A. S., Akhmanova, A., & Brown, N. H. (2013). Dynamic microtubules produce an asymmetric E-cadherin-Bazooka complex to maintain segment boundaries. The Journal of Cell Biology, 201(6), 887–901. http://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201211159
  • Preciado López, M., Huber, F., Grigoriev, I., Steinmetz, M. O., Akhmanova, A., Koenderink, G. H., & Dogterom, M. (2014). Actin-microtubule coordination at growing microtubule ends. Nature Communications, 5, 4778. http://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms5778

For further information about this project and how to apply, see our PhD Opportunities page:

PhD Opportunities

Selected publications

Journal articles