March 2024

Our paper elucidating the role of ecdysone signaling in myoblast fusion is published: Ruan et al., Curr Biol. Online ahead of print.

May 2023

Amrita Gokhale defended her thesis.

November 2022

Lab alum Jun Shi (2022) took a faculty position at South China Agricultural University.

November 2022

Tezin Walji defended her thesis.

May 2022

Lab alum Ruihui Zhang (2022) took a faculty position at Huazhong Agricultural University.

June 2022

Our paper identifying the cellular architecture and molecular determinants of the zebrafish fusogenic synapse is published: Luo et al., Dev. Cell Online ahead of print.

Aug 2020

Tezin Walji received a diversity supplement award from the National Institute of Health.

June 2020

Our paper on Dynamin's regulation of the dynamics and mechanical strength of the actin cytoskeleton.

Recommended by Faculty Opinions: Paolo Provenzano, Oliver Daumke, and Ling-Gang Wu.

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Dynamin mediated actin bundle

May 2020

Urge to merge: Understanding how cells fuse.

DALLAS – May 25, 2020 – Scientists have known for a decade that cells that fuse with others to perform their essential functions – such as muscle cells that join together to make fibers – form long projections that invade the territory of their fusion partners. But how the thin and floppy polymers involved in this process propel mechanically stiff protrusions has been unknown.

In a new study published online today in Nature Cell Biology, UT Southwestern scientists outline the mechanisms behind the formation of these projections, focusing on the interaction between two proteins known as actin and dynamin. The findings, they say, offer insight into a key cellular process that’s essential for the conception, development, regeneration, and physiology of multicellular organisms and may eventually lead to new treatments for a rare muscle disease.

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May 2020

Our paper on Dynamin's regulation of the dynamics and mechanical strength of the actin cytoskeleton is published: Zhang et al., Nat. Cell Biol. 22,674-688.

January 2020

Benjamin Ravaux received a travel award from the Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center.

July 2019

Our review on Drosophila myoblast fusion is published: Lee and Chen, Annu. Rev. Genet. 53, 67-91.

July 2019

Jun Shi received a travel award from the 14th International Zebrafish Conference.

April 2019

Santosh Verma took a faculty position at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, India.

November 2018

Ruihui Zhang was awarded an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship.

October 2018

Ruihui Zhang received the Wellstone Center Travel Award.

July 2018

Elizabeth received the American Society for Cell Biology WICB Mid-Career Award for Excellence in Research.

July 2018

Nathalie Gerassimov defended her thesis.

June 2018

Jun Shi received a 13th International Zebrafish Conference travel award.

May 2018

Our paper on the mechanoresponsive protein Spectrin is published: Duan et al., Nat. Cell Biol. 20, 688-698.

October 2017

Our first zebrafish paper is published: Shi et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 144, 11950-11955.

April 2017

Rui Duan started his faculty position at South China Normal University.

July 2016

Donghoon Lee received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

June 2016

Elizabeth received a Faculty Scholar Award from HHMI.

June 2016

We moved our lab from Johns Hopkins to UT Southwestern.

June 2016

Nathalie Gerassimov received a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association (AHA).

June 2015

Khurts Shilagardi received a National Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association (AHA).

April 2015

Ji Hoon Kim received the Daniel Nathans Award of the Young Investigator’s Day Program of Johns Hopkins University.

April 2015

Cellular ‘Cruise Control’ Systems Let Cells Sense and Adapt to Changing Demands.

Cells are the ultimate smart material. They can sense the demands being placed on them during critical life processes and then respond by strengthening, remodeling, or self-repairing, for instance. To do this, cells use “mechanosensory” systems similar to the cruise control that lets a car’s engine adjust its power output when going up or down hills.

Researchers are uncovering new details on cells’ molecular cruise control systems. By learning more about the inner workings of these systems, scientists hope ultimately to devise ways to tinker with them for therapeutic purposes.

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Electron micrograph showing Mechanical stress

February 2015

Mechanical stress is a key driver of cell-cell fusion, study finds.

Just as human relationships are a two-way street, fusion between cells requires two active partners: one to send protrusions into its neighbor, and one to hold its ground and help complete the process. Researchers have now found that one way the receiving cell plays its role is by having a key structural protein come running in response to pressure on the cell membrane, rather than waiting for chemical signals to tell it that it's needed. The study helps open the curtain on a process relevant to muscle formation and regeneration, fertilization, and immune response.

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3D representation of cell fusion

March 2013

Johns Hopkins study provides key insight into how cells fuse.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have established a high-efficiency cell-cell fusion system, providing a new model to study how fusion works. The scientists showed that fusion between two cells is not equal and mutual as some assumed, but, rather, is initiated and driven by one of the fusion partners. The discovery, they say, could lead to improved treatments for muscular dystrophy, since muscle regeneration relies on cell fusion to make muscle fibers that contain hundreds or even thousands of nuclei.

The study, published online on Mar. 7 in Science, reveals two critical components that have to be present for cell fusion to happen, explains Elizabeth Chen, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular biology and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences. Intriguingly, she says, one of these vital components changes the structure of one cell’s scaffolding — its cytoskeleton — to form protrusions that push their way into the other cell to initiate fusion.

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July 2012

Rui Duan was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association (AHA).

July 2008

Khurts Shilagardi was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association (AHA).

July 2008

Peng Jin was awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association (AHA).