William I. Weis, Ph.D.

Title
Professor
Department
Department of Structural Biology
Institution
Stanford University
Address
Fairchild Building, Room D139
299 Campus Drive West
City, State, Zip
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone
(650) 725-4623
E-mail
bill.weis[at]stanford.edu
Website
http://med.stanford.edu/profiles/William_Weis/
Research Field
Structural Biology
Award Year
1994

Research

Several distinct intercellular junctions connect epithelial cells. Two of these, the adherens junction and the desmosome, contain cadherin cell adhesion molecules. The extracellular regions of these transmembrane proteins mediate intercellular binding, while their cytoplasmic domains are linked to the actin- (adherens junction) or intermediate filament- (desmosome) based cytoskeletons. In this way the cytoskeletons of cells comprising a tissue are linked, imparting particular morphologies and mechanical strength to the tissue. The dynamics of these complex assemblies underlie changes in cell and tissue architecture that occur during development and in many cancers. Our research aims to understand the 3-dimensional architecture and dynamics of these junctions. We are trying to understand the mechanisms by which formation of the destruction complex enhances the phosphorylation of beta-catenin, and how beta-catenin serves as a scaffold to link the sequence-specific Tcfs to components of the general transcription machinery. We are attempting to biochemically reconstitute these complexes for mechanistic and structural studies.