Dorothy A. Lerit, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology

Emory University School of Medicine

Office: Emory University School of Medicine Whitehead Biomedical Research Building

Phone: (404) 727-3758

Email: dlerit@emory.edu

Office Location:

Mailing Address:

Emory University - Department of Cell Biology

444 Whitehead Research Bldg
615 Michael St.

Atlanta, GA 30322

Research Focus

Microtubules are filamentous polymers of the cytoskeleton that contribute to cellular form and function. During cell division, microtubules organize into a complex macromolecular machine, the bipolar mitotic spindle, which segregates the duplicated genome into two daughter cells. Microtubules orchestrate numerous critical tasks during non-proliferative stages as well, including cell polarization, ciliogenesis, cell migration, and intracellular trafficking. As the primary microtubule-organizing centers (MTOCs) of most cells, centrosomes are small organelles tasked with regulating the dynamic events of microtubule nucleation and organization. Deregulation of centrosome activity is often detrimental, leading to mitotic catastrophe and/or genome instability, hallmarks of cancer cells. Centrosome dysfunction is also associated with developmental disorders, such as sterility, and is the leading cause of primary microcephaly, a hereditary neurodevelopmental disorder.

Our research interests include understanding how centrosome activity is regulated in space and time, how individual centrosomes are differentially regulated within single cells, and how centrosome regulation contributes to cell and animal viability. To address these questions, we couple cutting-edge microscopy and cell biology with modern molecular biology and genetics approaches, primarily using Drosophila neural stem cells, germline stem cells, and early embryos as our model systems. Our studies in these genetically tractable models allow us to investigate paradigms of centrosome regulation and provide insight into how centrosome deregulation contributes to disease.

Publications

Lerit, D.A.*#, Shebelut, C.W., Lawlor, K., Rusan, N.M., Gavis, E.R., Schedl, P., and Deshpande, G.*# (2017). Germ cell-less promotes centrosome segregation to induce germ cell formation. Cell Reports. 18(4): 831-839. * equal contributors, # corresponding author