Omar Quintero's Lab

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller

Living things are dynamic. Whether it is a herd of wildebeest and zebra migrating across the African savannah or chromosomes segregating into daughter cells as they divide, movement and organization are key components of living systems.

I study the genes and proteins involved cellular motility. This “cytoskeleton” allows for movement and organization of subcellular components, as well as the overall ability of cells to determine their shape, to migrate, and to respond to their environment. My major research focus is on myosin proteins. These molecular motors power movements ranging from muscle contraction on the macro-scale, to the transport of organelles inside living cells on the nano-scale. I am particularly interested in myosin-XIX (MYO19), a myosin that I began characterizing with the help of my students. MYO19 plays a role in the transport and organization of mitochondria--the “powerhouse” of the cell. Mitochondrial position and function are essential for normal cellular activity. Defects in mitochondrial position or function result in human diseases.

The eyes may be the oldest research tool available to biologists, and my research relies heavily on modern microscopy approaches. We can now see the inner workings of cells in with more clarity and depth than van Leeuwenhoek could ever have imagined. My students and I are combining modern quantitative microscopy with classic cell biology, biochemistry, biophysics, and bioinformatics approaches to understanding the role of MYO19 (and other myosins) in normal cellular function.

Current Projects

  • What are the biophysical properties of the MYO19 ATPase, and how are those properties related to its cellular functions?
  • What is the mechanism by which MYO19 binds to mitochondria?
  • When is MYO19 activity necessary for normal mitochondrial function?
  • How are the cellular activities of MYO19 regulated?

Current Lab Members

Rachel McMullan, ‘13
Michael Marino, ‘15
Prachi Mehta, ‘15
Elizabeth Schinski, ‘15