We study the dynamic regulation of the actomyosin cytoskeleton in nonmuscle and muscle cells and their linkage to cell adhesion proteins at the plasma membrane. Cell adhesion and actomyosin contractility are mediated by a complex network of structural and regulatory proteins. The dynamic interplay between cell adhesion proteins and the actomyosin cytoskeleton regulates the assembly of cells into tissues and organs, controls cell motility and migration, affect cell shape, and orchestrate various cellular signaling networks.
We employ multifaceted experimental approaches by using cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography, biochemistry and cell biology to elucidate the fundamental molecular mechanisms that regulate cell adhesion molecules and the actomyosin cytoskeleton in normal and diseased cells. Importantly, these structure-function studies produce critical insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying various cytoskeletal protein related diseases including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and neuromuscular disorders and aid in the design of novel rational therapeutics.