A synthetic nuclear pore complex. Courtesy of Chenxiang Lin.
The Cell Biology of the Nuclear Envelope
The nucleus is the defining organelle of eukaryotic cells that is delimited by an elaborate membrane system called the nuclear envelope. The nuclear envelope protects the genome by establishing a barrier that is impermeable to most molecules; molecular exchange across this barrier is achieved by massive protein assemblies called nuclear pore complexes (NPCs). The Lusk Lab is interested in understanding how the nuclear compartment is established and maintained through the attainment of two related goals: 1) to understand the fundamental mechanisms that contribute to the unique identity and function of the nucleus and 2) to inform our understanding of complex disease mechanisms where nuclear envelope function is perturbed.
Disruption of the function of the nuclear envelope has profound effects on cellular processes due to impaired nuclear compartmentalization, altered gene expression, and loss of genome stability. Consistent with this, dozens of human diseases that range from cancers to neurodegeneration to premature aging are associated with nuclear envelope malfunction. Our lab, in collaboration with colleagues, employs a multidisciplinary approach to illuminate the fundamental mechanisms that contribute to nuclear envelope integrity, nuclear compartmentalization and 3D-genome organization.