Jennifer L. Ross

Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Massachusetts

J. Ross Physics Department Web Site

Ph.D.: University of California, Santa Barbara
Postdoctoral Training: University of Pennsylvania

Biological Physics of Microtubules

Microtubules are cytoskeletal filaments that are the main structural element of cells. Alterations to their intrinsic physical properties have large impacts on their cellular function. Since microtubules are the structural component of the mitotic spindle, the axon, and cillia and flagella, their structural properties have a large impact on cell morphology and division. Microtubule structures can be manipulated via assocaited proteins, post-translational modifications, and pharmaceutical drugs.

A second role of microtubules is as the long-range transport track (highway) of the cell. A special subset of associated proteins, called motor proteins can bind to and literally walk along the microtubule. These proteins use ATP as energy to perform this work of transport. They transport vesicles, proteins, organelles, and RNAs around the cell to control their location in time and space very accurately.

My lab is interested in investigating the physics behind the microtubules and motors. We use advanced optical and microscopic techniques to observe single microtubules and motors as they perform their normal functions.

Representative publications:

D. Zhang, K.D. Grode, S.F. Stewman, J.D. Diaz-Valencia, E. Liebling, U.Rath, T. Riera, J.D. Currie, D.W. Buster, A.B. Asenjo, H.J. Sosa, J.L. Ross, A.Ma, S.L. Rogers and D.J.Sharp. Drosophila Katanin is a microtubule depolymerase that regulates cortical-microtubule plus-end interactions and cell migration. Nature Cell Biology, 13, 361-369 (2011).

J.D. Diaz-Valencia, M.M. Morelli, M. Bailey, D. Zhang, D.J. Sharp, and J.L. Ross. Drosophila Katanin-60 Depolymerizes and Severs at Microtubule Defects. Biophysical Journal, 100, 2440-2449 (2011).

L. Liu, E. Tuzel, J.L. Ross. Loop formation in microtubules during gliding at high density. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter Special Issue: Cooperative Dynamics in Cells, 23, 374104 (2011).

C.P. Samora, B. Mogessie, L. Conway, J.L. Ross, A. Straube, A.D. McAinsh. MAP4 and CLASP1 operate as a safety mechanism to maintain a stable spindle position in mitosis. Nature Cell Biology, 13, 1040-1050 (2011).

N. Ma, J. Titus, A. Gable, J.L. Ross, P. Wadsworth. TPX2 regulates the localization and activity of Eg5 in the mammalian mitotic spindle. J. Cell Biology, 195, 87-98 (2011).