Amy Gladfelter


Amy Gladfelter headshot

Amy Gladfelter, Ph.D.

Professor of Cell Biology


Room C338B LSRC
Phone: 919-660-6437

We study syncytia which are a specialized form of cells where many nuclei share a common cytoplasm.  These appear across the natural world and human body, achieving large sizes and complex shapes by virtue of their organization.   Using fungi and placenta cells, we study what functions emerge from the syncytial state of organization, uncovering mechanism relevant for all cells. One area of focus is on how dynamic compartments called biomolecular condensates form in the cytoplasm and how cells sense their own shape using the septin cytoskeleton.  We study how RNA sequence and structure encodes the location, size and physical properties of condensates to control the cell division cycle and cell polarity.  With the septin cytoskeleton, we are studying how nanometer-sized proteins can sense micron-scale curvature that characterizes cell shape.  Finally, a fascinating feature of syncytia is that nuclei can act independently and divide labor while sharing a single cell. We are applying single nucleus RNA sequencing and spatial transcriptomics in fungi and placenta to examine how the transcriptome is controlled in time and space in large cells.  Our lab is made up of an interdisciplinary and collaborative team of biologists, mathematicians, engineers and biophysicists.  We combine a variety of approaches including genetics, live cell imaging, in vitro reconstitution and mathematically modeling but also follow the biology wherever it takes us through collaborations.

Lab Website