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Gia Voeltz

Gold room A425C
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Ph.D., Yale, 2001


Research Interests:
Organelle biogenesis: the regulation of organelle structure and shape by membrane proteins.

Research Profile:

Organelle Biogenesis
In the Voeltz lab, we are interested in how membrane-bound organelles are generated. Most organelles have elaborate yet conserved shapes, which require the structural organization of the membrane bilayer along with its unique set of proteins. Generating and maintaining complex organelle morphologies requires specific proteins and perhaps lipids to stabilize them. It has long been clear that a complex interplay of factors must determine organelle morphology, but how, let alone the proteins responsible, are just starting to be discovered.

We are interested in understanding how the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is formed. It is a large continuous and singular organelle with many different functions and an elaborate shape made up of several structurally distinct domains. Subdomains of the ER include the nuclear envelope (NE) and an extensive network of tubules and sheets/cisternae found in the peripheral ER (see Figure 1). We recently identified two conserved classes of integral membrane proteins, reticulons and DP1/Yop1, that generate the shape of the ER in eukaryotic cells. Some of the questions that we find most intriguing about ER biogenesis are (1) how can the membrane bilayer be shaped into different structures like tubules, sheets, and stacked cisternae when they are all continuous with each other (2) how is the ER disassembled and reassembled into the correct structure following the cell cycle, and (3) what effect does ER shape have on differentiated and polarized cell morphologies?

Selected Publications

Westrate LM, Lee JE, Prinz WA & Voeltz GK (2015) Form Follows Function: The Importance of Endoplasmic Reticulum Shape . Annual Review of Biochemistry, 84.

Rowland AA, Chitwood PJ, Phillips MJ & Voeltz GK (2014). ER Contact Sites De?ne the Position and Timing of Endosome Fission . Cell, 159: 1027-41.

Murley A, Lackner LL, Osman C, West M, Voeltz GK, Walter P & Nunnari J (2013). ER-associated mitocondrial division links the distribution of mitocondria and mitocondrial DNA in yeast . Elife, 2.

Friedman JR, DiBenedetto JR, West M, Rowland AA & Voeltz GK (2013). ER-endosome contact increases as endosomes traffic and mature. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 24:1030-40.

English AR & Voeltz GK (2013). Rab10 GTPase regulates ER dynamics and morphology . Nature Cell Biology 15: 169-78.

Friedman JR, Lackner LL, West M, DiBenedetto JR, Nunnari J & Voeltz GK (2011). ER Tubules Mark Sites of Mitochondrial Division. Science, 334: 358-362.

West M, Zurek N, Hoenger A & Voeltz GK (2011). A 3-D analysis of yeast ER structure reveals how ER domains are organized by membrane curvature. Journal of Cell Biology, 193: 333-346.

Zurek N, Sparks L & Voeltz G (2011). Reticulon short hairpin transmembrane domains are used to shape ER tubules. Traffic, 12: 28-41.

Friedman JR & Voeltz GK (2011). The ER in 3D: a multifunctional dynamic membrane network. Trends Cell Biol., 21: 709-717.