Dr. Adriana Dawes

 Single cell embryo of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans

In my research, I use a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches to study intracellular polarization, the mechanism by which cells establish and maintain biochemically distinct domains. Many different cell types are capable of polarizing, including motile cells, epithelial cells and embryonic cells (shown in the image above). The same group of proteins, called the PAR/aPKC system, are involved in many instances of polarization, despite the cells coming from different organisms, having very different volumes and geometries, and polarizing for very different purposes. This suggests that intracellular polarization is an ancient and evolutionarily conserved biological process, and lessons learned about polarization in one biological system gives us insight into other instances of polarization. The better we understand the fundamental mechanism underlying polarization, the better we will understand ourselves and potentially, be able to better target diseases that hijack the polarization proteins.

Selected Publications