Shailaja is currently a PhD student in Dr. Etienne-Manneville’s lab at the Institut Pasteur, Paris and is affiliated with the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI) and the Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France. She received her B.Sc. in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Zoology from Christ University, Bangalore, India in 2014. During the summer of 2014, she worked as a research fellow at HealthCare Global Cancer Hospitals for 3 months. She then obtained her Master’s degree in Biomedical and Molecular Sciences Research at King’s College London in 2015. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a Research Assistant at King’s College London from Nov 2015 to April 2016. Her research interests include cytoskeletal organization and dynamics, cell migration and mechanotransduction.

Outline of the project

Cell polarization and directed migration are dictated by the cell microenvironment and are caused by cytoskeletal changes, cell-cell adhesions and cell-matrix interactions. Cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix occurs through integrin-mediated focal adhesions, which can sense the mechanical properties of the environment and impact the cytoskeleton via mechanotransduction. Focal adhesions can also alter the ability of the cell to preferentially migrate on substrates of specific rigidity. Most of the forces required for cell motility are provided by the actin cytoskeleton.

However, in addition to the actin cytoskeleton, microtubules are also one of the key players in cell migration. My project focuses on phosphoinositide signaling in regulating microtubule acetylation during collective cell migration. I am also investigating the role of microtubule acetylation in focal adhesion dynamics, cell polarity, migration in 2D and 3D, and mechanotransduction.