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Michael Koonce, Ph.D.

  • Michael Koonce

    Michael Koonce, Ph.D.

    • Director of the Division of Translational Medicine
    • Cellular and Molecular Basis of Diseases - Cell Motility

    • Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley (1987)
    • Postdoctoral training: University of Colorado at Boulder
    (518) 486-1490

  • "Microtubule-nuclear dysfunction resulting from disruption of kinesin motors, during interphase (A,B) and mitosis (C,D)"
    "Microtubule-nuclear dysfunction resulting from disruption of kinesin motors, during interphase (A,B) and mitosis (C,D)"

Research Interests

Nearly all forms of macroscopic movement in eukaryotes act at the level of a single cell, and are the product of interactions between molecular motors and the cell's internal scaffold of structural proteins, appropriately named the cytoskeleton. Motor-driven processes are critical for normal cellular activities and their malfunctions are often implicated in diseases that impact public health, including neurological disorders, pathogen infection, developmental defects, and cancer. Dr. Koonce's research program lies in understanding how these motors function and how their efforts are coordinated to produce useful cellular movement.

Researchers working in this lab are focusing on microtubule-based motors, the dynein and kinesin isoforms that participate in organelle transport and cell division. Our work utilizes combinations of gene knockouts, live cell imaging, and electron microscopy to investigate cell processes that are disrupted as a consequence of motor malfunction. Characterization of dynein has produced the first detailed structural models of how the motor may work and has revealed that dynein plays an important role in organizing the interphase microtubule network. Further analysis of kinesin motors has identified new functions in microtubule organization and in connecting the cell centrosome with the nucleus. The work is performed in Dictyostelium discoideum, an outstanding model organism for cell motility studies.

Select Publications

Odell J, Sikirzhytski V, Tikhonenko I, Cobani S, Khodjakov A, Koonce M.
Force balances between interphase centrosomes, as revealed by laser ablation.
Molecular Biology of the Cell.
Tikhonenko I, Irizarry K, Khodjakov A, and Koonce MP.
Organization of microtubule assemblies in Dictyostelium syncytia depends on the microtubule crosslinker, Ase1.
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences.
Tikhonenko I, Magidson V, Graf R, Khodjakov A, Koonce MP.
A kinesin-mediated mechanism that couples centrosomes to nuclei.
Cellular & Molecular Life Sciences.
Leo M, Santino D, Tikhonenko I, Magidson V, Khodjakov A, Koonce MP.
Rules of engagement: centrosome-nuclear connections in a closed mitotic system.
Biology Open.
Walter WJ, Koonce MP, Brenner B, Steffen W.
Two independent switches regulate cytoplasmic dynein's processivity and directionality.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
McNaughton L, Tikhonenko I, Banavali NK, LeMaster DM, Koonce MP.
A low affinity ground state conformation for the Dynein microtubule binding domain.
Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Koonce MP, Graf R.
Dictyostelium discoideum: a model system for ultrastructural analyses of cell motility and development.
Methods in Cell Biology.