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Joy Yang, Ph.D.
Joy Yang, Ph.D.
Department of Cell Biology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
725 N. Wolfe Street, 101 Hunterian
Baltimore, MD 21205
Research Topic: Regulation of cell migration by cell-ECM adhesion and integrin signaling
Cell migration is essential for a variety of biological events including embryonic development, wound healing, inflammation and the metastasis of malignant cells. Our long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which cell migration is regulated during these biological events. We focus on a family of cell surface receptors called integrins, which play critical roles in attaching cells to a substratum on which they migrate. One member of the integrin family, α4β1 (α4β1) integrin, is specifically expressed in migratory cells during embryonic development. Our studies on mouse embryos deficient in the α4 integrin subunit revealed key roles of α4β1 integrin in the migration of epicardial progenitor cells on the heart and the distribution of vascular smooth muscle progenitor cells along developing blood vessels.
In an effort to understand how a4b1 integrin regulates cell migration, we discovered that the a4 integrin subunit is physically associated with non-muscle myosin IIA. We demonstrated that this association facilitates re-organization of the actin cytoskeleton, which is required for a4b1 integrin to promote cell migration. Work is in progress to understand how the association between a4 integrin and myosin IIA regulates cytoskeletal organization.