Subcellular Targeting of the p21-activated Protein Kinase, Cla4

Lorraine M. Wang : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Professor Jeremy Thorner, Molecular and Cell Biology

The ability of cells to respond to extracellular signals is mediated by signal transduction networks that almost invariably include a cascade of protein kinases. One family of protein kinases that is universally conserved in eukaryotes is called the p21-activated protein kinases (PAKs). The genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has revealed a closely related PAK-type protein kinase called Cla4. Cla4 is required for the proper assembly of a novel cytoskeletal structure that is essential for cytokinesis thereby providing an important checkpoint in the highly regulated cell cycle. Lorraine will be investigating the specific roles of each of the known domains in Cla4 in order to fully understand when Cla4 gets localized to specific subcellular destinations, which domains are responsible for this targeting, and when Cla4 commences specific phosphorylation of critical subcellular substrates. By clarifying the role of Cla4 in the cell cycle checkpoint pathway, Lorraine's studies may provide valuable information for the development of more effective anti-cancer chemotherapies.