Raff Lab Research
Work in the lab is mainly funded by Cancer Research UK. We have PhD students are funded by the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD programme in Developmental Biology in Cambridge, the Wellcome Trust 4-year D.Phil programme in Chromosome and Developmental Biology in Oxford, and by the Dunn School Departmental studentships. Postdoctoral fellows in the lab have been funded by EMBO, HFSP and The Royal Society. If you are interested in joining the lab please contact Jordan directly.
The main goal of our research is to understand how centrioles and centrosomes function at the molecular level. Centrosomes are the major microtubule (MT) organising centres in animal cells and they comprise a pair of centrioles surrounded by an amorphous Pericentriolar Matrix (PCM). Centrosomes are widely believed to play an important role in many aspects of cell organisation, including intracellular transport, cell movement, establishing and maintaining cell polarity and cell division.
We have largely taken a reductionist approach to studying the centrosome. We identify individual centrosomal proteins and then use the powerful genetic, biochemical and cell biological tools available in Drosophila to analyse the function of these proteins and identify their interacting partners. We can then study the function of the human homologues of these proteins in human cells in culture. More recently, we have exploited Drosophila as a model system to study the potential role of centrosomes, asymmetric cell division and genetic instability in tumourigenesis. We hope that our studies will shed light on the roles of centrioles and centrosomes in health and disease and that they will identify new potential targets for anti-cancer therapies.
Our work is concentrated on five main questions:
(1) What are the essential functions of centrosomes and centrioles?
(2) How do centrioles duplicate?
(3) How is the PCM organised?
(4) How do D-TACC and Msps/ch-TOG stabilise centrosomal microtubules?
(5) How do extra centrosomes initiate tumourigenesis in flies?