Martin Poenie

Associate Professor
Molecular Biosciences


Phone: 512-471-5598

Office Location
PAT 543C

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Molecular Biosciences, College of Natural Sciences
2506 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

Research Summary:

We are interested in the cell biology of T cells and how they carry out their effector functions. In particular we are want to know how signaling events lead to reorganization of the T cell cytoskeleton and translocation of the microtubule organizing center (MTOC) to the site where T cells make contact with an antigenic target cell. This contact site is remodeled into a specialized junction known as the immunological synapse due to signals that are generated when a T cell makes contact with its target. As part of this remodeling event dynein, a microtubule motor protein, becomes anchored at the synapse. Dynein then serves to pull microtubules and the MTOC towards the synapse. Recently we developed modulated polarization microscopy, an instrument that allows us to visualize the cytoskeleton in real time. We have used this instrument together with three dimensional immunofluorescence microscopy to show how microtubules associate with the synapse. Our current effort is to understand how T cell signaling causes a complex of proteins that include dynein to relocate to the synapse.


2006 Jeffrey Combs, Soo Jin Kim, Sarah Tan, Lee A. Ligon, Erika L. F. Holzbaur, Jeffrey Kuhn, and Martin Poenie , Recruitment of dynein to the Jurkat immunological synapse, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103: 14883-14888

2004 Poenie M, Kuhn J, Combs J, Real-time Cytoskeletal Imaging in T cells, Cur Opin Immun 16: 428-438

2002 Kuhn, J.R. and Poenie, M., Dynamic Polarizaton of the Microtubule Organizing Center During CTL-Mediated Killing, Immunity 16: 111-121

2001 Kuhn, J.R., Wu, Z. and Poenie, M. , Modulated Polarization Microscopy, Biophys J 80: 972-985