Indra Chandrasekar, PhD, Lab


Primary Research Focus

Dr. Chandrasekar Bio

Chandrasekar lab’s research interest is to understand the role of cytoskeletal proteins in cell and organ function. The Chandrasekar research laboratory is trying to answer some fundamental questions in cellular trafficking pathways and extend those findings to organ function and human diseases. The primary focus of the cell-organ function relationships is aimed at the disorders of kidney and the brain. Our research will (hopefully) uncover some novel cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in chronic kidney diseases and neurodegenerative disorders that will facilitate development of future targeted therapies.
  • Associate Scientist
  • Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota
  • Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University

Sanford Research - Chandrasekar Lab

Behind the research

Cells have compartmentalized structures and rely on regulated membrane trafficking to move cargo between organelles/compartments. Many essential cellular processes such as nutrient uptake, receptor mediated signaling and synaptic vesicle recycling depend on membrane trafficking and endocytosis. Our lab is interested in the role of actin cytoskeleton and actin associated proteins in membrane trafficking and endocytic mechanisms in cells. Recently, we demonstrated that nonmuscle myosin II (MII), an actin associated motor protein is critical for both compensatory and constitutive receptor mediated endocytosis in neurons and fibroblasts. Our work provided the first cellular and genetic evidence for the importance of actin-MII interactions during early stages of clathrin coated vesicle formation. Our current model is that MII regulates endocytosis by forming a contractile network with actin, around the site of membrane remodeling and acting like a purse string to regulate the curvature and scission processes, thereby aiding in vesicle budding (Fig.1). Identifying MII as a critical player in endocytosis has raised the following questions:

  1. Does actin-MII play a central role in all types of membrane trafficking events?
  2. What are the mechanisms by which MII participates and selectively regulates this crucial cellular process?
  3. What are the physiological consequences of loss of actin-MII mediated membrane trafficking in vertebrate systems?
Our work on primary neurons indicates that MII-driven tension/actin dynamics regulate the major pathway of synaptic vesicle retrieval (clathrin mediated compensatory endocytosis) and is critical for synaptic transmission. This suggests a unique and essential role for actin-MII mediated tension in cell types that require rapid and continuous membrane remodeling to perform essential organ function. We are interested in understanding the cell type specific requirements for dynamic cytoskeletal changes in cells that populate organs like kidney and brain.
Chandrasekar Lab - MII in CME
Fig.1: Model showing the role of MII in clathrin mediated endocytosis (CME). Actin polymerization drives the vesicle away from the plasma membrane through its interaction with the clathrin coat (mediated by Hip1R) (upward black arrow). Simultaneously, MIIB bipolar filaments contract, producing tension on the actin network associated with the coated pit, arranged parallel to the plasma membrane. The interaction of this actin with dynamin directly or through cortactin produces a purse string-like tightening of the neck and a shearing action orthogonal to the direction of vesicle movement (horizontal black arrow), facilitating scission, invagination, curvature generation and symmetry of clathrin coated pit during CME. Pre-peer reviewed version of Chandrasekar et al, Traffic. 2014 Apr;15(4):418-32.



Role of Nonmuscle Myosin II in Membrane Trafficking and Organ Function

Resources Positions Available
Access Dr. Chandrasekar's publications here. Please contact Dr. Chandrasekar if you are interested in actin dynamics, membrane-cytoskeletal interactions, and cell - organ function relationship.
Meet members of the Chandrasekar lab here.


Contact Information
Telephone: (605) 312-6412


Lab News

February 2017, Indra Chandraskear, PhD, presented her laboratory's research findings on genetic causes of kidney disease during Pediatric Ground Rounds at the USD Sanford School of Medicine. The title of her presentation was "Establishing the role of MYH genes in end stage renal disease".

January 2017, Dr. Indra Chandrasekar gave an invited research seminar to the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of South Dakota. The title of her seminar was "Nonmuscle MII takes the center stage in mammalian endocytosis"

December 2016, Dr. Chandrasekar and Dr. Karla Otterpohl attended the Annual meeting of American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco. They presented a poster entitled "Nonmuscle Myosin II regulates membrane dynamics of endocytic proteins and receptor ligand couple during clathrin mediated endocytosis in epithelial cells. Co-authors on the poster from the Chandrasekar lab include Ryan Hart and Steven Ortmeier.

November 2016,Dr. Chandrasekar was awarded a grant from SD BioSNTR for her research project entitled "Application of Novel Microscopy techniques and FRET based tension sensor probe measure dynamic changes in cellular tension."

October 2016, The Chandrasekar laboratory presented a poster entitled "Loss of Nonmuscle Myosin II in Postnatal Mouse Renal tubules Results in Chronic Kidney Disease" at the 2016 American Society of Nephrology meeting in Chicago, IL.

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