Jessica K Polka

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Kinetochores are proteinaceous assemblies that mediate the interaction of chromosomes with the mitotic spindle. The 180 kDa Ndc80 complex is a direct point of contact between kinetochores and microtubules. Its four subunits contain coiled coils and form an elongated rod structure with functional globular domains at either end. We crystallized an engineered(More)
Microtubules are nucleated in vivo by gamma-tubulin complexes. The 300-kDa gamma-tubulin small complex (gamma-TuSC), consisting of two molecules of gamma-tubulin and one copy each of the accessory proteins Spc97 and Spc98, is the conserved, essential core of the microtubule nucleating machinery. In metazoa multiple gamma-TuSCs assemble with other proteins(More)
Bacterial cytoskeletal proteins participate in a variety of processes, including cell division and DNA segregation. Polymerization of one plasmid-encoded, actin-like protein, ParM, segregates DNA by pushing two plasmids in opposite directions and forms the current paradigm for understanding active plasmid segregation. An essential feature of ParM assembly(More)
Eubacteria and archaea contain a variety of actin-like proteins (ALPs) that form filaments with surprisingly diverse architectures, assembly dynamics, and cellular functions. Although there is much data supporting differences between ALP families, there is little data regarding conservation of structure and function within these families. We asked whether(More)
Microtubules are nucleated in vivo by γ-tubulin complexes. The 300 kDa γ-tubulin small complex (γTuSC), consisting of two molecules of γ-tubulin and one copy each of the accessory proteins Spc97p and Spc98p, is the conserved, essential core of the microtubule nucleating machinery1,2. In metazoa multiple γTuSCs assemble with other proteins into γ-tubulin(More)
BACKGROUND Cyanobacteria play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. In Synechococcuselongatus, the carbon-fixing enzyme ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO) is concentrated into polyhedral, proteinaceous compartments called carboxysomes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS Using live cell fluorescence microscopy, we show that(More)
In bacteria, some plasmids are partitioned to daughter cells by assembly of actin-like proteins (ALPs). The best understood ALP, ParM, has a core set of biochemical properties that contributes to its function, including dynamic instability, spontaneous nucleation, and bidirectional elongation. AlfA, an ALP that pushes plasmids apart in Bacillus, relies on a(More)
The landscape of scientific research and funding is in flux and affected by tight budgets, evolving models of both publishing and evaluation, and questions about training and workforce stability. As future leaders, junior scientists are uniquely poised to shape the culture and practice of science in response to these challenges. A group of postdocs in the(More)
Movement of molecules across membranes in response to a stimulus is a key component of cellular programming. Here, we characterize and manipulate the response of a protein-based piston capable of puncturing membranes in a pH-dependent manner. Our protein actuator consists of modified R bodies found in a bacterial endosymbiont of paramecium. We express and(More)
Traditional views of synthetic biology often treat the cell as an unstructured container in which biological reactions proceed uniformly. In reality, the organization of biological molecules has profound effects on cellular function: not only metabolic, but also physical and mechanical. Here, we discuss a variety of perturbations available to biologists in(More)