Claudio Aguilar, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

It is well established that endocytosis and signaling are functionally linked. For example, abnormalities in the process of endocytosis are associated to malignant transformation due to deficient downregulation of signaling receptors.

Endocytosis is also required for signaling activation. For instance, internalization is required for routing ligand-receptor complexes to endosomal compartments (‘signaling endosomes’) where they can initiate specific signaling events. Further, our laboratory has recently established that endocytic proteins can directly activate signaling pathways involved in cell polarity and cytoskeleton remodeling (Aguilar et al., 2006; Mukherjee et al., 2009 and Coon et al., 2010; 2011).

Currently, our research is focused on the role played by the endocytic machinery in the activation of signaling pathways related to cancer cell invasion through the basement membrane. We are particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms that contribute to Epithelial- Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in breast carcinoma.
In order to pursue our research goals we routinely use genetic, biochemical and cell biological techniques in yeast and mammalian cells. We study protein-protein interactions at molecular level by using biophysical, biochemical and genetic tools. We also investigate the physiological relevance of these interactions in live cells by combining, for example, siRNA-mediated knock-down, functional assays (e.g., cell migration and invasion), time-lapse microscopy and Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer.

For more information on Dr. Aguilar, visit his department website here.