Prof. John VakonakisPhD
Associate Professor in Structural Biology and Biophysics
Centriole assembly, Malaria cytoadherence, Structural biology, Protein-protein interactions
Centrioles, which give rise to basal bodies and animal centrosomes, must duplicate once per cell cycle in order to maintain their number. Abnormalities in this process lead to numerical and/or structural aberations in centrioles, which can cause ciliopathies, sterility and cancer in humans. It is therefore important to understand how these cell organelles assemble, and how their assembly is regulated. My group is interested in elucidating the mechanistic roles essential centriole components such as SAS-6, SAS-5/STIL and SAS-4/CPAP, play in the assembly process. Over the last few years we, and others, resolved the molecular architectures of SAS-6, SAS-5 and SAS-4, and demonstrated that e.g. SAS-6 can form oligomeric assemblies whose symmetry influences the symmetry of centrioles. We now need to understand what complexes of these components form during centriole assembly, and how these complexes contribute to the architecture of the full organelle.