Faculty & Staff
Linda Huang, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology - Cell Biology: Signal Transduction and Regulation of Cell Morphology. Graduate Program Director (MCOB, MS Biology, MS Biotech)
Areas of Expertise
Cell Biology: Signal Transduction and Regulation of Cell Morphology
PhD, Biology, California Institute of Technology
BS, Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1988
Education Abroad Program, University of Sussex, England, 1986-87
Professional Publications & Contributions
Linda Huang's research focuses on how cells regulate their morphology during development. The work in her laboratory, the Huang Lab, seeks to understand the complex morphological changes that occur during sporulation in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. During sporulation, four spores are formed de novo within the original cell, each spore housing one of the four meiotic products. A highly organized four-layered spore wall surrounds each of the four spores. The events of spore morphogenesis control the appropriate formation of these spores. Spore morphogenesis begins with the development of the prospore membrane, a double lipid bilayer that grows to surround each of the meiotic products. This prospore membrane serves as the template for spore wall deposition and is essential for the formation of spores. The Huang Lab uses genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry to study the signal transduction processes that govern spore morphogenesis, with a long term goal of understanding how cellular architecture is regulated.
Current work in the lab focuses on how these morphogenic events are regulated by specific proteins in the cell. Through biochemical purification of the MAP kinase Smk1, her lab identified several proteins that physically interact with Smk1, including Gsc2, a subunit of beta-glucan synthase, which plays an important role in spore wall synthesis. Through genetic and biochemical experiments, they have found that SMK1 negatively regulates beta-glucan synthase activity, suggesting a direct link between Smk1 function and cell morphogenesis. The Huang lab is currently investigating how Gsc2 and other Smk1p-interacting proteins contribute to Smk1's ability to coordinate cell morphogenesis.
The Huang Lab is also examining the development of the prospore membrane, and have discovered that SPO71 is important for determining the size of the prospore membranes. Without SPO71, cells make prospore membranes that are too small, and these prospore membranes are not able to serve as the template for spore wall deposition. Current work is focusing on how Spo71 works with other cellular factors to determine the size of the prospore membrane.