Estee Kurant, PhD
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology
PhD, 2001 - Technion, Israel
Molecular and cellular mechanisms in cell clearance
Proper elimination of unwanted or aberrant cells through programmed cell death and subsequent phagocytosis is crucial for animal development and tissue homeostasis. Inefficient or defective clearance of dying cells can lead to inflammation, auto-immune diseases and cancer. The focus of research in my lab is the dynamic and precisely regulated behavior of cell clearance. To gain insight into this evolutionarily conserved process and understand its molecular and cellular basis, we use the Drosophila model, which permits comprehensive analysis of cell removal in vivo.
To address the question of how phagocytic cells are able to distinguish between dying cells and healthy ones and how this is regulated, we are conducting a detailed investigation of phagocytic receptors and their ligands on the dying cell surface. Using in vivo and in vitro approaches we study cell clearance during normal embryonic development and tissue remodeling, as well as in genetically induced oncogenic transformation and neurodegeneration.
Ventral view of the Drosophila embryonic central nervous system. Membrane-labeled phagocytic glia appear green and apoptotic neurons appear red.
Shklyar B, Shklover J, Kurant E. 2012. Live imaging of apoptotic cell clearance during Drosophila embryogenesis. JoVE. In press.
Kurant E. 2011 Keeping the CNS clear: glial phagocytic functions in Drosophila. Glia 59, 1304-1311.
Kurant E, Axelrod S, Leaman D, Gaul U. 2008. Six-microns-under acts upstream of Draper in the glial phagocytosis of apoptotic neurons. Cell 133, 498-509.