We are pleased to announce that the following members of staff will be undertaking attachments at the Crick:

Satellite Groups

Dr Gunnar Pruessner

Dr Pruessner completed an extremely fruitful sabbatical at the Crick, researching the field of microtubules, and his satellite group will build on the success of this collaboration. Since microtubules are present at virtually every stage of the life cycle of a cell, this research has significant implications at a fundamental level, and because homologues exist across the living world, insights into the microbiology of microtubules may also translate to other areas. The wealth and quality of data available provides an exceptional opportunity for a theoretician to improve the understanding of the mechanisms involved and to devise experiments to test new hypotheses. A number of questions have arisen during the present Crick collaboration that will be at the centre of the proposed research: 1) High accuracy measurements of fluctuations of the length of the microtubules; 2) Role of diffusion and depletion by polymerisation; and 3) Regulation of growth properties.

Dr Xiaodong Zhang

In this collaborative research project, Dr Zhang's satellite group will be using a combination of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and structural biology to reveal the molecular actions of BRCA2 in driving homologous recombination in both mitotic and meiotic cells. Dr Zhang's recent structural studies, coupled with biochemical and functional assays, provided new information on BRCA2 protein, revealing that BRCA2 acts as a molecular chaperone that recruits RAD51 to ssDNA to establish RAD51 nucleoprotein filament formation. With the recent revolution in cryo-electron microscopy methodology, the group is focusing on improving protein samples using insect cell expression systems and the co-expression of BRCA2 with its interaction partners, and the aim is to obtain high resolution structural information on BRCA2, BRCA2-RAD51, BRCA2-DMC1 and BRCA2-PALB2. This information will be complemented by functional studies guided by structural information, together providing significant insights into the mechanism of action of this important tumour suppressor protein. These studies will be critical to understand the roles BRCA2 play in cancer development, which will be key for developing new treatment.