GTPases, Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics:
Investigating the normal functions of Rab and Rho-family GTPases, their contributions to disease pathology and potential as therapeutic targets form the core of research projects in the Wandinger-Ness laboratory. Rab and Rho GTPases function as molecular switches in the cellular circuitry governing cell behaviors. Upstream signaling cascades feed in to turn on specific GTPases, which in turn couple to downstream effectors that control cell growth, differentiation, adhesion and motility. Mutation of Rab GTPases or associated regulatory proteins underlies numerous human genetic diseases. Cancer, neurodegeneration and diabetes represent examples of acquired human diseases resulting from the up- or downregulation or aberrant function of Rab and Rho GTPases. The Wandinger-Ness laboratory utilizes sophisticated microscopic imaging technologies, flow cytometry, protein biochemistry, cell biology and genomics to address questions related to the pathogenesis and treatment of peripheral neuropathies, ovarian cancer and kidney disease. New technologies and discoveries have been translated to 6 patents and invention disclosures. The group is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary with research partners in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, as well as in the College of Pharmacy, the School of Medicine, and the School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM).