Department or Program

Biological Chemistry

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

John Goss


Cytokinesis is the process by which cells separate during mitosis. It consists of two linked processes, contraction of an actomyosin ring and formation of a septum through cell wall synthesis. The cell wall is synthesized by a- and b-glucan synthases, Ags1p, Bgs1p, and Bgs4p, that are transported to the plasma membrane through the secretory pathway. The exocyst complex is a tethering complex that is hypothesized to be responsible for tethering vesicles containing these synthases to the plasma membrane prior to fusion. In this study, the inactivation of these synthases is characterized using an atomic force microscope to quantify the strength of the cell wall by measuring how resistant the cell wall is to an applied force. As the synthase activity decreases, the strength of the cell wall also decreases providing a reasonable method of measuring synthase activity, which enables us to characterize the relative contribution of each synthase to overall cell wall integrity. Additionally, using exocyst mutations to disrupt delivery of functional synthases to the plasma membrane, we gain insight into polarized membrane trafficking in fission yeast.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 20, 2022