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Featured Research

Featured Research: Stone Chen Lab


Stone Chen’s lab studies the fundamental mechanisms by which the cell assembles the actin cytoskeleton—the muscles and skeleton inside all eukaryotic cells that allow the cell to move, change shape, and survive.


Rendering of WAVE complex.
The above rendering depicts the WAVE complex (green/magenta/cyan) binding to two Rac1 GTPases (yellow-orange), one Arf1 GTPase (orange), and two types of membrane receptors (blue, light blue, light brown). These interactions release the VCA sequence (magenta, with the dashed line showing unstructured peptide linker), which binds to and activates the Arp2/3 complex (light blue) to promote the formation of a new actin filament (grey) from an existing mother filament (grey). Image and caption provided by Stone Chen.

The Chen Lab is particularly interested in a group of essential actin regulators belonging to the Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein (WASP) family. These proteins regulate actin assembly in a vast range of normal and disease-related cellular activities. Recently, the Chen Lab discovered a series of important mechanisms that explain how the WASP-family protein WAVE is activated by various proteins on the membrane, including different small G proteins and membrane receptors. Their work has provided critical insights into how WAVE controls the actin cytoskeleton in many cellular processes and how genetic mutations in WAVE disrupt actin assembly leading to neurological disorders, immune syndromes, and cancer. Research in the Chen Lab is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the National Science Foundation.

For more details, check out their website: