Dr. Tammana’s current research work focus on understanding: 1) the regulation between cell division and Cilia formation and 2) how ciliary signaling regulates cell cycle or vice versa. Eukaryotic Cilia/Flagella are specialized organelles protruding from the cell surface, required for cell motility, signaling and sensory perception. They are made up of membrane bound microtubule axoneme, arising from and anchored to a specialized centriole called basal body. Cilia/Flagella are dynamic organelles and their assembly and maintenance requires continuous cycling of precursor components from the cytoplasm to the site of assembly and removal of turnover products through a conserved microtubule motor based transport system termed Intraflagellar transport (IFT). As cilia are present on almost all human cell types, mutations that impair ciliary development or function result in a variety of human diseases and developmental defects termed “ciliopathies” e.g., Primary ciliary Dyskinesia, Bardet Biedl syndrome, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Joubert Syndrome, Meckel–Gruber Syndrome etc.
Cells resorb their cilia prior to cell division and reform them once the cell division is completed. Cilia emerge from basal bodies which are modified centrioles that also give rise to mitotic poles during cell division, indicating an interlinking connection between cell division and ciliogenesis. Moreover, several recent studies have demonstrated that ciliary proteins are involved in the regulation of cell cycle and vice versa. Hence our research work is focused on the hypothesis that disruption of the regulation between cell division and cilia formation could lead to deregulation of cell cycle resulting in uninterrupted proliferation of cells which is one of the hall marks of cancer (ref. fig. 1). To address this, we are systematically characterizing proteins involved both in cell cycle and ciliogenesis using model organisms,Leishmania and Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. As an alternative approach to understand the relation between cell division and cilia formation, we will be screening various known anti-cancer drugs and cell cycle inhibitors to understand their effect on cilia formation and function using model organisms.