Congratulations to Byung Ho Lee for his stellar thesis defence
On Tuesday March 6th, Byung Ho Lee of the laboratory of Professor Monica Gotta successfully defended his thesis entitled “The p97-cofactor p37 Regulates Spindle Orientation By Limiting Cortical NuMA Recruitment Via PP1/Repo-Man”
Byung Ho joined the Gotta lab in August of 2013 where his studies focused on deciphering molecular mechanisms of cell division. Previous research in the Gotta lab identified a protein called p37 as an important regulator of the orientation of a structured called the mitotic spindle, which essentially determines on which plane or direction cell division takes place. Since the orientation of cell division can determine cell fate this fundamental process is critical not only during development when tissues are growing and differentiating into organs but also during tissue regeneration from stem cells. In addition, this process can be disrupted during cancer, and indeed p37 was known to be an important regulator of another protein called p97, which is currently being investigated as a potential drug target for anti-cancer therapies. However, how exactly p97 and p37 control spindle orientation was not known. Byung Ho’s work, published recently in the prestigious Journal of Cell Biology showed that p37 ensures correct spindle orientation by adjusting the localization of PP1 with Repo-Man. This complex in turn controls the recruitment of another protein called NuMa which regulates the attachment of molecular motors between the spindle and the inner surface of the cell, and which can thus maintain the spindle at the appropriate place. This work furthers our understanding of p37 and p97 function, and more generally how the complex mechanism of cell division is achieved and regulated at the molecular level.
Byung Ho came all the way from the Pacific island-kingdom of Tonga and was perhaps the first PHYM student to defend his thesis in Tongan traditional wear and in his bare feet. He nevertheless did a great job at delivering an entertaining and understandable presentation on a complex thesis topic. He was an avid contributor to the department’s collegiate spirit, organizing student retreats as well as TGIFs, and his laughter in the hallways will be missed. Byung Ho is looking forward to pursuing his scientific career through a post-doc at the University of Copenhagen, and we wish him all the best in his bright future!
Posted by: P. Nunes-Hasler15 March 2018