Research Areas in Molecular Biology and Genetics

Biological Clock Laboratory (Dr. Halil Kavaklı)

Our laboratory is actively working on biological clock related problems. First, we are interested in understanding how biological clock communicates with other signal transduction pathways in mammals to regulate many physiological variables at the molecular levels like blood pressure, immune system, some form of depressions, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and sleep. Second, we are taking experimental approaches to develop novel drugs against biological clock related diseases. Finally, our lab is interested in to understand how biological clock affects starch production and in turn plant yield. We are currently working on the relationship between transcription of the ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (a key enzyme in starch biosynthesis) and clock under various photoperiods.

Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology (Dr. Gülayşe İnce Dunn)

We investigate the role of gene expression mechanisms in nervous system development and function.  Neurons have evolved numerous mechanisms to diversify and regulate their gene expression.  Our laboratory studies regulation and neuronal gene expression at two levels:  transcriptional regulation and regulation of alternative splicing.

Laboratory of Mitochondrial Biogenesis (Dr. Cory Dunn)

Towards a better understanding of mitochondria-associated disease and aging, a goal of our laboratory is to study how cells respond to and survive after mtDNA mutation. For these studies, we use budding yeast, the experimental system in which much of what is known about mitochondrial assembly and function has been acquired. One long term aim of our laboratory is to find genetic and pharmacological methods by which we can increase the fitness of human cells with impaired mitochondria.

Cell Biology and Proteomics Laboratory (Dr. Nurhan Özlü)

Our lab is interested in the regulation of cell division. Cell division is a fundamental process by which all living things propagate. As mammalian cells progress into mitosis (M-phase) and cytokinesis (C-phase), the cell undergoes dramatic reorganization in its structure and biochemical state in a short period of time, and the dynamics of this process are poorly understood.  By the entry into mitosis, almost all aspects of the cell’s interior are changed under the influence of the master mitotic kinase Cdk1. Similarly; cell surface morphology undergoes dramatic reshaping at the onset of mitosis. As adherent cells enter mitosis they transiently lose their adherence and round up. At cytokinesis the daughter cells spread back to regain their interphase morphology. The major questions that we aim to understand are how cell cycle dependent changes are regulated and how the changes on the cell membrane are coordinated with cell’s interior to drive cell division and how the cell is communicating with its extracellular environment during division. Towards this goal, we apply quantitative proteomic techniques to examine the biochemical profile of different cellular compartments as mammalian cells progress through mitosis and cytokinesis, during normal physiology, and in response to perturbation of different cellular components by drugs. In parallel we perform microscopy-based assays and cell biology techniques to determine the underlying mechanisms of the biochemical behaviours observed in the proteomic analyses.

Laboratory of Centrosomes, Cilia and Microtubules (Dr. Elif Firat-Karalar

The centrosome is the main microtobule-organizing center of animal cells. It consists of two centrioles surrounded by pericentriolar material. Centrioles are essential for the assembly of flagella and cilia, which are important in signalling and motility. Centrosomes duplicate precisely once per cell cycle to ensure that each daughter cell receives one centrosome. There are many links between the centrosome/cilium complex and a number of human diseases.  Structural and numerical abnormalities of the centrosome have long been implicated in cancer. Mutations affecting components of the centrosome and cilia cause human genetic diseases including ciliopathies, dwarfism and primary microcephaly. To better understand what goes awry in these diseases, we aim to elucidate the controls that govern centriole duplication during the cell cycle. Moreover, we are interested in understanding how centrosomes and cilia are assembled, maintained and dynamically altered during the cell cycle. We take a multidisciplinary approach to address these questions, combining genomic, proteomic, biochemical and cell biological methods.

RNA Laboratory (Dr. Funda Şar)