We are interested in how receptor tyrosine kinases induce intracellular signaling cascades thereby regulating crucial cellular process including cell proliferation, differentiation and survival.
In particular, we study the receptor tyrosine kinase MuSK, the key regulatory factor during the development of the neuromuscular junction. Activation and concentration of MuSK at the junction represent the critical events during the development of the neuromuscular junction. Defects in MuSK function cause severe muscle disorders such as myasthenia gravis and congenital myasthenic syndromes. Signal transduction events downstream of MuSK lead to pre-and postsynaptic differentiation. Our research focuses on the role of MuSK during neuromuscular junction development.
Further, we are interested in trafficking processes such as endocytosis and recycling of surface proteins. Here we study a guanine nucleotide exchange factor designated Rin-like (Rinl), which represents a novel member of the family of RIN proteins. RIN proteins are activated by receptor tyrosine kinases like the EGF receptor and serve as guanine nucleotide exchange factors for Rab5 proteins. Our current focus lies on the in vitro and in vivo characterization of Rinl in T cell development and function as well as T cell responses during inflammatory conditions.
The experimental strategies include biochemical and molecular approaches, in vitro cell culture systems and mouse molecular genetics tools.