Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2014
Home Department: Biophysics Program
Faculty Advisors: James Nelson (Biology), Alexander Dunn (Chemical Engineering), and William Weis (Structural Biology)

Research Title: Biophysics of cadherin-catenin complexes and the actin cytoskeleton

Research Description: Tissue functions require that protein complexes at cell-cell junctions are connected to the cytoskeleton, a network of filamentous proteins which fulfill structural and signalling roles. How cadherin-catenin complexes at adherens junctions are connected to actin filaments is not understood. Experiments using purified complexes showed that they do not bind actin filaments, yet experiments in whole cells and organisms showed this binding should occur. Craig Buckley (Dunn group) and Jiongyi have demonstrated that connections between cadherin-catenin complexes and actin filaments do form but only when stabilized by applied tension, which would normally be generated by molecular motors in cells. They are currently studying how other proteins and spatio-temporal cues may regulate the dynamics of this connection.


Jiongyi is a senior scientist at Eikon Therapeutics.