The role of the Rap GTPases and Pyk2 Protein Tyrosine Kinase in cell migration

Chemokines are small proteins that direct the migration of immune cells into and within the body’s immune system. These include B cells that become activated and mediate an immune response to infectious agents (antigens) that cause disease. Dr. Michael Gold’s laboratory is interested in understanding the function of the protein Rap1, a GTPase that is activated by binding to the nucleotide GTP. Dr. Gold’s lab has shown that Rap activation is involved in B cell migration towards certain chemokines. More recently, their research has indicated that Rap regulates the activation of Pyk2, a protein known to be required for B cell migration. As a trainee in Dr. Gold’s lab, Caylib Durand is studying how chemokine-induced signaling causes B lymphocytes and other immune cells to migrate, and how chemokine-mediated signaling activates Rap1 and Pyk2. His goal is to identify key signaling pathways that coordinate the events required for cell migration. Ultimately, Caylib’s work may indicate that Rap and Pyk2 might be good targets for drugs to regulate inflammation and immune responses.