PhD (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research)
Research Interests: Cytoskeleton, Single-molecule Biophysics, FRET Biosensors, DNA Origami
Professor Ashim Rai did his PhD in 2016 from TIFR, Mumbai in Professor Roop Mallik’s lab where he used in vitro reconstitution and force spectroscopy methods to understand the mechanisms of phagosome transport. His research revealed a unique mechanism of dynein motor clustering in lipid rafts and highlighted the disruption of dynein clustering as a mode of pathogen survival in cells (Rai et al., Cell, 2016). For his postdoctoral work, Professor Rai moved to University of Minnesota in 2016 where he studied mechanisms of motor regulation by adaptor proteins in Professor Sivaraj Sivaramakrishnan’s group. Professor Rai developed a method to reconstitute a minimal actin cortex on supported lipid bilayers and used it to show the impact of motor transport on the underlying cytoskeletal network. His work showed that myosin VI motor is regulated by a dynamic interaction with the adaptor protein Dab2 to allow cargo transport through a dense actin cortex (Rai et al., JBC, 2021). In another study, Professor Rai used single-molecule methods to show that the adaptor protein GIPC tunes the stiffness of the cargo-motor linkage to drive fast cargo transport (Rai et al., JBC,2022). In 2020, Professor Rai moved to The Scripps Research Institute, California in Professor Danielle Grotjahn’s lab where he used the cutting-edge imaging technology of cryo electron tomography to study changes in mitochondrial structure during cell death.
At Ahmedabad University, Professor Rai’s research is directed towards building single-molecule tools to study the molecular mimicry mechanisms used by pathogenic factors to hijack the host cytoskeletal machinery. He plans to study cytoskeletal remodeling using single-molecule reconstitution, conformational dynamics of cytoskeletal factors using FRET biosensors and to build DNA origami-based platforms to specifically target interaction of pathogenic factors with host cytoskeleton inside cells.
My research interests over the years has spanned the entire gamut of cytoskeletal biology ranging from cytoskeletal transport to cytoskeletal remodeling. It can be broadly divided into the following themes: