Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position to study the cell and molecular mechanisms of ciliary signaling and cell-cell fusion during fertilization. We use the bi-ciliated, unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a model system. In our ciliary signaling project, we want to determine the mechanisms of regulation and the downstream substrates of a cytoplasmic protein kinase that is essential for the ~15-fold increase in cAMP during fertilization and whose phosphorylation is activated by interactions between adhesion receptors on the cilia of gametes of opposite mating type (sex) (10.1242/jcs.259814). We are also studying the function and properties of Chlamydomonas Patched, a ciliary membrane protein whose homolog in vertebrates is also in cilia and a key receptor in the cilium-based Hedgehog pathway in mice and humans. In our cell-cell fusion studies, we are studying the mechanism of regulation of the broadly conserved membrane fusogen, HAP2. HAP2 family members are essential for gamete fusion in organisms across the tree of life, including in pathogenic protists (e. g., those that cause malaria (HAP2 is a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine target: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.11.024), cryptosporidiosis, and coccidiosis); in flowering plants (e. g., Arabidopsis thaliana, Zea mays, and Oryza sativa); and in many metazoans (e. g., Drosophila melanogaster). In collaborative studies on the X-ray structure of HAP2, we recently showed that it is eukaryotic member of the class II fusion protein family (10.1016/j.cell.2017.01.024), whose viral members are responsible for the infectivity of viruses such as dengue and Zika. We have found that gamete membrane recognition and adhesion trigger HAP2 to become fusogenic (10.1038/s41467-021-24613-8), and that HAP2 is physically associated with a gamete adhesion protein in Chlamydomonas that is conserved across plant lineages (10.1016/j.devcel.2021.10.023; 10.1016/j.pbi.2022.102275). Currently, we are investigating the molecular mechanisms that couple species-specific receptor interactions to activation of HAP2 for fusion. Applicants are expected to have a Ph.D. in any of several areas in the life sciences, including cell and developmental biology, molecular genetics, or biochemistry.
The University of Maryland, College Park, an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment. The University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental disability, protected veteran status, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, creed, marital status, political affiliation, personal appearance, or on the basis of rights secured by the First Amendment, in all aspects of employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.