E. Michael Ostap, PhD

Working Group 1 Co-Leader | Principal Investigator

Michael Ostap, Ph.D., is Professor of Physiology and Principal Investigator of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute. He is a Co-Leader of the CEMB Working Group 1.

The goal of the Ostap research team is to understand the cellular machinery responsible for powering cell movements and shaping the architecture of cells, tissues, and organs. The lab’s discovery-based research focuses on the role of the cytoskeleton, molecular motors, and signaling pathways in powering cell migration, muscle contraction, and the transport of internal cell compartments.  The pathways investigated in the Ostap laboratory are crucial for several normal and pathological processes, including: cell and tissue development, endocytosis, wound healing, immune response, cardiomyopathies, and metastases of tumors.
Most of the team’s current efforts are focused on investigating cytoskeletal motors (myosin, dynein, and kinesin). These nano-machines use chemical energy stored in cells (in the form of ATP) to generate mechanical force and motion. Cytoskeletal motors are the engines that power muscle contraction, cell migration, intracellular transport, cell division, and cell shape. Ostap’s team is determining how these motors work at the molecular level, how they are physically connected to the machinery they are powering, how they are regulated, how they interact with other motors and signaling networks, and how their fundamental biophysical parameters impact cell function. The lab uses a range of biochemical, cell biological, single-molecule, and other biophysical techniques to better understand these proteins in health and disease.

Visit the Ostap Lab website.

Keywords: cytoskeleton; molecular motors; cell signalling; muscle contraction; cell structure; intracellular transport; myosin; dynein; kinesin; mechanobiology

Working Group(s): Working Group 1: How do cells sense their mechanical environment?