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Our long term goal is to characterize regulatory mechanisms of membrane trafficking and their role in infection and human disease. For this, we use state-of-the-art techniques, such as live-cell imaging and confocal microscopy and a broad range of molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology methods to advance the knowledge in this area. We focus on the study of small GTPases of the Rab and Arf families of the Ras superfamily, as these have been shown to be master regulators of all steps of membrane trafficking. Mutations in several proteins of these families lead to diseases affecting mainly neurons, cilia and lysosome-related organelles. Moreover, several of these proteins have been implicated in tumorigenesis. Furthermore, Rab and Arf proteins have been shown to play essential roles in infection, since several microbes can subvert these proteins in order to escape degradation and evade the immune system. Thus, the study of the mechanisms of diseases caused by mutations in Rab and Arf proteins, as well as the subversion of these proteins by microbes can shed light on the etiology of these diseases and allow a better understanding of the protein functions.

Keywords: Molecular cell biology, ciliopathies, cell migration and adhesion, cancer, Arl, Rab, endocytic recycling traffic, lysosomes, lysosome-related organelles, regulated secretion, pigmentation, melanin, melanocyte, keratinocyte.


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