Richard A. Cerione, Ph.D.

Title
Goldwin Smith Professor
Department
Molecular Medicine; Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Institution
Cornell University
Address
320 A Baker Laboratory
City, State, Zip
Ithaca, NY 14853
Phone
(607) 253-3888
E-mail
rac1[at]cornell.edu
Website
http://chemistry.cornell.edu/faculty/detail.cfm?netid=rac1
Research Field
Cell Biology
Award Year
1986

Research

The research efforts of my laboratory have focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which signals are transmitted from cell surface receptors to biological effectors. In particular, we have been interested in identifying new signaling molecules that influence the growth and differentiation of mammalian cells. Three areas of research are currently being pursued in the laboratory. The first involves studies of the regulation and structural characterization of a cell-division-cycle, Ras-related GTP-binding protein, Cdc42. This GTP-binding protein and its regulators appear to play critical roles in cell growth, the establishment of cell polarity, and cytokinesis. In these studies, we are using a variety of biochemical, molecular biology-based, and structural techniques to obtain new insights into how this Ras-like protein, through interactions with a variety of cellular targets, can coordinate cytoskeletal changes with cell cycle progression and cell division. A second area of research interest focuses on the structure-function comparisons of heterotrimeric G proteins and Ras-like GTP-binding proteins, where we have used the retinal G protein, transducin, as a model for developing novel fluorescence approaches to study G protein activation and G protein-target interactions. The third area of interest concerns the identification and structure-function characterization of novel GTP-binding activities present in the nucleus and engaged in regulating RNA metabolism and/or cell cycle progression. In pursuing each of these areas of research, we are striving to use a combination of biophysical and molecular biology-based approaches to obtain as complete a picture as possible regarding how growth factor receptors and GTP-binding proteins mediate communication between the plasma membrane and the nucleus. In many cases, this has involved developing fluorescence spectroscopic approaches (e.g.,resonance energy transfer, fluorescence anisotropy) to directly monitor protein-protein interactions that comprise different signaling pathways. More recently, X-ray crystallographic analysis is being used to obtain detailed information regarding the protein interfaces that are involved in signaling interactions. We hope to utilize this information to design new classes of dominant-negative mutant signaling molecules that will serve as powerful reagents for in vivo studies.