CE Seminar by Güneş Özhan

Time: 13:30
Location: ENG B15






Speaker: Güneş Özhan

Title: Binding of canonical Wnt ligands to their receptor complexes occurs in ordered plasma membrane environments

Date: 10 March 2017, Friday

Time: 13:30 (Refreshments will be served)

Place: ENG B15

Host: Kerem Pekkan



While the cytosolic events of Wnt/β-catenin (canonical) signaling pathway have been widely studied, only little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in Wnt binding to its receptors at the plasma membrane. Here, we reveal the influence of the immediate plasma membrane environment on the canonical Wnt-receptor interaction. While the receptors are distributed both in ordered and disordered environments, Wnt binding to its receptors selectively occurs in more ordered membrane environments (often referred to as membrane rafts) which appear to co-internalize with the Wnt-receptor complex. Moreover, Wnt/β-catenin signaling is significantly reduced when the membrane order is disturbed by specific lipid-targeting molecules. Similarly a reduction in Wnt signaling activity is observed in Niemann-Pick Type C disease cells where trafficking of ordered membrane lipid components to the plasma membrane is genetically impaired. We conclude that ordered plasma membrane environments are essential for binding of canonical Wnts to their receptor complexes and downstream signaling activity.



Gunes Ozhan earned her Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Middle East Technical University in 2003. Shortly after, she was admitted to the Molecular Biology Program of International Max Planck Research School in Göttingen, Germany. She received her PhD in 2009, with her thesis on the molecular evolution of embryonic development in arthropods, which was conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen. After working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Biotechnology Center of TU Dresden and gaining experience in signal transduction and the zebrafish animal model, Dr. Ozhan was offered a PI position at iBG-izmir and moved to her hometown Izmir in 2014, to achieve her vision of establishing an independent lab in a top-notch biomedical research center in this lovely city. Upon her return, she has been successively awarded Reintegration Fellowship of TUBITAK, EMBO Installation Grant, L'Oréal Turkey For Women In Science award, Academy of Science BAGEP award and Turkish Academy of Sciences GEBIP award. Dr. Ozhan is a molecular and developmental biologist and made valuable contributions to our understanding of Wnt/β-catenin signaling regulation at the plasma membrane. At iBG-izmir, she explores the tight regulation of Wnt signaling that will reinforce discovery of novel drugs and its roles in adult zebrafish brain regeneration.