The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Thomas J. Maresca

Assistant Professor

Research areas are in the study the vital process of cell division. The goal of cell division is to ensure equal segregation of the genome, which is packaged into a defined number of chromosomes, between two daughter cells. Mistakes in this process lead to cells receiving an incorrect number of chromosomes – a state called aneuploidy. Since aneuploidy is the cause of Down syndrome and is linked to metastatic tumor progression, understanding cell division at its most basic levels has significant relevance to human disease and cancer.

Current Research
My laboratory employs a broad array of scientific approaches - including high and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques and protein engineering – to answer important unsolved problems in cell biology. The central thrust of our research efforts is focused on the kinetochore – a protein super-structure that mediates attachment of chromosomes to dynamic microtubules within the mitotic spindle and serves as the hub for an essential checkpoint pathway called the spindle assembly checkpoint. Force-transmission through the kinetochore regulates kinetochore-microtubule interactions and checkpoint signaling. We are actively investigating both the magnitude of force that acts on the kinetochore and its effects on kinetochore function using super-resolution microscopy, and high-resolution imaging of calibrated fluorescence-based force sensors in living cells. We are also employing protein engineering to alter the physical properties of force-transducing components within the kinetochore to investigate how force-dependent structural changes within the kinetochore contribute to the stabilization of kinetochore-microtubule interactions and production of a checkpoint signal.

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Academic Background

  • BS The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999
  • PhD University of California, Berkeley, 2005
  • Postdoctoral Training The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006-2010
Verma V, Maresca TJ. Direct observation of branching MT nucleation in living animal cells. J Cell Biol. 2019 Jul 24;. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201904114. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31340987.
Verma V, Maresca TJ. Microtubule plus-ends act as physical signaling hubs to activate RhoA during cytokinesis. Elife. 2019 Feb 13;8. doi: 10.7554/eLife.38968. PubMed PMID: 30758285; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6398982.
Ye AA, Verma V, Maresca TJ. NOD is a plus end-directed motor that binds EB1 via a new microtubule tip localization sequence. J Cell Biol. 2018 Sep 3;217(9):3007-3017. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201708109. Epub 2018 Jun 13. PubMed PMID: 29899040; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6122986.
Ye AA, Cane S, Maresca TJ. Chromosome biorientation produces hundreds of piconewtons at a metazoan kinetochore. Nat Commun. 2016 Oct 20;7:13221. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13221. PubMed PMID: 27762268; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5080440.
Ye AA, Deretic J, Hoel CM, Hinman AW, Cimini D, Welburn JP, Maresca TJ. Aurora A Kinase Contributes to a Pole-Based Error Correction Pathway. Curr Biol. 2015 Jul 20;25(14):1842-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.06.021. Epub 2015 Jul 9. PubMed PMID: 26166783; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4509859.
Contact Info

Department of Biology
436B Morrill IV South
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-0957