Research

Some of the ongoing research projects in Scarlata lab

1) Localization and function of Phospholipase Cβ in Cells
Besides studying PLCβ in model systems, we are also trying to understand how this enzyme is regulated in cells. An important part of regulation is what cellular compartment the enzyme resides and we find that not only is it localized on the plasma membrane but also in the cytoplasm, and in some circumstances in the nucleus. We wish to understand the role that PLCβ is playing in these different cellular compartments as well as the factors that are responsible for localizing these different PLCβ populations.

2) Organization of Phospholipase Cβ Signaling Domains in Cells
There is increasing evidence gathered by our laboratory and others that PLCβ and it’s associated G proteins and receptors reside in higher order signaling domains in cells. We are now trying to understand how these proteins can self-scaffold and remain complexed throughout the activation cycle. Since G proteins and PLCB reside on the plasma membrane and are complexed with receptors, we are also carrying out studies to understand the organization of G protein coupled receptors on the plasma membrane and how membrane domains, such as caveolae affect their properties.

3) Role of PLCβ in gene regulation
We have found that PLCβ binds to an endonuclease involved in RNA-induced gene silencing. In cells, PLCβ can reverse down-regulation of two genes whose protein products regulate histone H2B transcription allowing progression through the cell cycle. This observation may tie PLCB and G protein signaling to proliferation. We are now trying to identify the interactions involved in these processes.