Research Group of Dr John Runions, Oxford Brookes University

Research Group of Dr John Runions, Oxford Brookes University

(Front L to R) Katja Graumann, Peng Wang, Chris Hawes(Back L to R) Kentaro Tamura, Anne Osterrieder, Sarah Irons, Imo Sparkes, John Runions, Angel Villegas-Fernandes.

Dr John Runions is a Research Fellow in Cell and Molecular Biology in the School of Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University. He is a plant cell biologist and microscopist who works in close association with the Plant Endomembrane group of Professor Chris Hawes. John has a particular interest in the organellar components of the protein secretory pathway, that is, the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi bodies. These components are in constant motion and John’s research is aimed at discovering why this is, and if the Golgi bodies are attached directly to the endoplasmic reticulum.

John’s group uses GFP to study the behaviour of the organelles of interest. When a small area of the ER surface that is tagged with photoactivatable GFP is activated, Golgi bodies in the vicinity are seen to move in a highly correlated manner with the dispersing GFP(fig 1, see reference below). This has lead to a reformulation of the idea that Golgi bodies are free to roam over the ER. In fact, ER and Golgi bodies may be interconnected even though the connection is difficult to observe by transmission electron microscopy.

John completed his PhD in Victoria, British Columbia before moving on to Postdoctoral positions at Cornell, Cambridge, and Oxford Brookes, where he is now a member of the Plant Cell Biology and Microscopy Research Group. John is also the Programme Director of the MSc / PGDiploma in Bioimaging with Molecular Technology and has a new course, MSc Biotechnology, beginning in September 2007.

John says "Golgi bodies are small discreet units which are highly dynamic and historically they have been difficult to analyse. By using the tracking and time lapse features of Volocity we have been able to characterise and quantify this movement. We will be using Volocity in our ongoing projects on the study of membrane proteins and an analysis of ER remodelling in 4D data sets."

For more information about the research in John’s lab please visit their web page.

Endoplasmic reticulum (green) and Golgi bodies (red) are highly dynamic. We use Volocity to track each Golgi body so that we can perform statistical analysis on their movement. In this case, the vectors signify the speed and direction of movement of a subset of Golgi bodies. The starting position for each is translated to the axis origin for simpler visual evaluation. No preferred direction of Golgi movement is evident in this case.

 

GFP-tagged proteins that localise to different membrane systems, in this case the plasma membrane of leaf epidermal cells, can be used to study protein dynamics. Here, Volocity has reconstructed an isosurface of confocal z-series data.

1 Runions, J., Brach, T., Kuhner, S. and Hawes, C. (2006) Photoactivation of GFP reveals protein dynamics within the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Journal of Experimental Botany, 57, 43-50.