Biography

1993
PhD in Cell Biology, University of Birmingham, UK

1993-1996
Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department if Cell Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland

1996-1999
Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, London, UK 

1999-2003
MRC Career Development Fellow in the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

2003-2008
MRC Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

2008-2012
Reader in the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

2012-present
Professor in the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

 

Overview

The cells in our body contain internal compartments, each of which performs functions that are essential for the viability of the cell and the health of the organism as a whole. The composition of these internal compartments, which are called organelles, depends upon the correct delivery of specific molecules (proteins and lipids) to them and the controlled movement of these molecules between the various organelles. This movement, referred to as membrane traffic, is also extremely important for the communication of cells with their environment, allowing the release of molecules from cells and the uptake of others into cells. exterior. Common examples of such molecules are hormones, neurotransmitters and the proteins that make up our skin and bones. Consequently, defects in membrane traffic cause many diseases in humans. Moreover, it is often exploited by pathogens to gain entry to our cells during infection. Work in the Lowe lab is aimed at identifying the cellular machinery that regulates membrane traffic, how it functions in healthy cells and how it goes awry in disease. A major goal of our work is to identify candidate molecules and pathways that are amenable to therapeutic intervention for the treatment of both human disease and pathogenic infection.

Research interests

Membrane Traffic in the Secretory and Endocytic Pathways

Our research is focussed on membrane traffic and how defects in this fundamental process lead to disease. Our work can be split into 2 main areas: 1.) the structure and function of the Golgi apparatus; and 2.) regulation of membrane traffic in the endocytic pathway.

1.) The Golgi apparatus lies at the heart of the secretory pathway and plays a major role in the modification, sorting and trafficking of protein and lipid cargo molecules. Defects in these fundamental processes lead to numerous diseases and they are also important during infection by intracellular pathogens. Key players in Golgi structure and trafficking are the golgin family of coiled-coil proteins found on the cytoplasmic surface of the Golgi membrane. We are currently investigating the mechanisms by which members of this family contribute to Golgi function in healthy cells, as well as how their loss leads to pathological changes at the cellular and organismal level. We are also interested in identifying Golgi-associated proteins that regulate mitosis, since this process is often defective in cancer.

2.) We are studying how membrane traffic in the endocytic pathway is regulated. Endocytosis is the process by which cells internalise many proteins such as growth factors and hormones, and is important for a variety of cellular functions including growth factor signalling. We are particularly interested in two lipid metabolising enzymes that are located on endosomes, called INPP5B and OCRL1. Mutation of OCRL1 causes the rare X-linked disorder known as Lowe syndrome, which is characterised by defects in the central nervous system, eyes and kidneys. We are investigating how INPP5B and OCRL1 regulate endocytic trafficking and how loss of OCRL1 leads to the symptoms of Lowe syndrome, using both mammalian cell culture and zebrafish embryo model systems.  

 

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