Bio-X Affiliated Faculty

The Nelson lab's research seeks to understand how cell interactions specify the correct cellular organization of complex tissues, and how structurally and functionally different plasma membrane domains are assembled and tailored to specific tissue and organ functions. They take multi-faceted experimental approaches to these problems including: biophysical methods using single molecules; in vitro reconstitution with purified proteins; state-of-the art live cell fluorescence microscopy; and analysis of abnormalities in cellular and subcellular organization in disease states. They focus on experimentally tractable model cell systems that can be examined mechanistically by biochemical and cell biological approaches, although they are now working with more complex developmental systems including Zebrafish and Dictyostelium. Their research has provided detailed molecular insights into protein-protein interactions and mechanisms that link cell-cell adhesion to the functional differentiation of cells.