Actin: From Genes to Flies

Welcome to the Sokac Lab! We study the actin cytoskeleton – the structural scaffold that gives cells their shape and allows cells to change shape as they crawl, divide and mold tissues.

In our research we consider actin itself, as well as a long list of proteins that bind actin in both its monomer and polymer forms.   But we also strive to understand how all of these actin binding proteins come together to drive cell shape change at just the right time and place to sculpt a developing embryo.  One big question that motivates us is: How does a highly conserved repertoire of actin binding proteins give rise to a diversity of cell shape changes, each with unique kinetics and facing distinct mechanical challenges?

The methods we use combine live-cell imaging and quantitative analysis with biochemistry and Drosophila genetics. We may count single-molecules; or we may consider embryo fitness following environmental stress.  Regardless of the scale of focus, our efforts share the common goal of understanding the actin cytoskeleton at a newly holistic level so we can better know why morphogenesis sometimes fails and how disease pathways progress.

To learn more about our research, please contact Dr. Sokac at