The Bretscher Lab


The Bretscher lab studies how microfilaments contribute to the functional organization of eukaryotic cells. Two model systems are used.


In the first, we investigate the role of actin binding proteins in the functional organization of the apical aspect of polarized epithelial cells. This work is currently centered around ezrin, and has lead us to investigate both signaling and membrane traffic pathways.


In the second, we exploit budding yeast to understand how the actin cytoskeleton polarizes secretion and segregates organelles during the cell cycle. The current focus is on the role of formins and myosin-V motors.

To learn more about our research, click here.


Our research is funded in part by:

Anthony Bretscher, PhD

Tony Bretscher is a Professor of Cell Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and is a member of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology (Weill Institute). He is a member of the Graduate Fields of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Genetics, Genomics and Development. After training as a physicist at the University of Cambridge, he obtained his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Leeds, studying gene regulation in E. coli. He was then an EMBO Fellow to the Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University, where he worked with Dale Kaiser on development in the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. He was then a Max Planck Society Fellow to the Department of Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany, where he began his studies in cell biology with Klaus Weber. In 1980 he was appointed to the faculty in the Cell Biology Department at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. He moved to Cornell in 1981. He has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry  and Molecular Biology of the Cell, and is currently on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Cell Biology and Journal of Cell Science. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Selected Publications

Donovan K, Bretscher A. Tracking individual secretory vesicles during exocytosis reveals an ordered and regulated process. J Cell Biol. 2015 Jul 13; 210(2):181-9.

Donovan K, Bretscher A. Head-to-tail regulation is critical for the in vivo function of myosin V.  J Cell Biol. 2015 May 4;209(3):359-65.

Xu L, Bretscher A. Rapid Glucose Depletion Immobilizes Active Myosin V on Stabilized Actin Cables.  Curr Biol. 2014 Oct 8; S0960-9822(14):01137-3.

Garbett D, Bretscher A. The surprising dynamics of scaffolding proteins. Mol Biol Cell. 2014 Aug 15; 25(16):2315-9.

Viswanatha R, Wayt J, Ohouo PY, Smolka MB, Bretscher A. Interactome analysis reveals ezrin can adopt multiple conformational states. J Biol Chem. 2013 Dec 6; 288(49):35437-51.

Chernyakov I, Santiago-Tirado F, Bretscher A. Active Segregation of Yeast Mitochondria by Myo2 Is Essential and Mediated by Mmr1 and Ypt11Curr Biol. 2013 Sep 4; 23:(18)1818–24

Garbett, D., Sauvanet, C., Viswanatha, R. & Bretscher, A.  The tails of the scaffolding proteins EBP50 and E3KARP regulate their localization and dynamics. Mol Biol Cell 2013 Aug 20; 24, 3381-92.

Sher I, Hanemann CO, Karplus PA, Bretscher A. The tumor suppressor merlin controls growth in its open state, and phosphorylation converts it to a less-active more-closed state.Dev Cell 2012 Apr 17; 22(4):703-5

Donovan KW, Bretscher A. Myosin-V is activated by binding secretory cargo and released in coordination with Rab/exocyst function. Dev Cell. 2012 Oct 16; 23(4):769-81

Garbett D, Bretscher A. PDZ interactions regulate rapid turnover of the scaffolding protein EBP50 in microvilli. J Cell Biol. 2012 Jul 23;198(2):195-203

Viswanatha R, Ohouo PY, Smolka MB, Bretscher A. Local phosphocycling mediated by LOK/SLK restricts ezrin function to the apical aspect of epithelial cells. J Cell Biol. 2012 Dec 10; 199(6):969-84

Santiago-Tirado FH, Legesse-Miller A, Schott D, Bretscher A. PI4P and Rab inputs collaborate in myosin-V-dependent transport of secretory compartments in yeast. Dev Cell. 2011 Jan 18; 20(1):47-59

Fehon RG, McClatchey AI, Bretscher A. Organizing the cell cortex: the role of ERM proteins. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2010 Apr; 11(4):276-87

Pruyne, D., Legesse-Miller, A., Gao, L., Dong, Y. & Bretscher, A.  Mechanisms of polarized growth and organelle segregation in yeast. Ann. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 2004; 20, 559-591

Pruyne, D., Evangelista, M., Yang, C., Bi., E., Zigmond, S., Bretscher, A. & Boone, C. Role of formins in actin assembly: nucleation and barbed end association. Science 2002 Jul 26; 297, 612-615

mol cell bio 2012 textbook cover copy

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