January 2024 Spotlight
Dr. Anat Galis Vivante
I am a postdoc in Dr. Guy Nir’s lab (Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology). My research, in collaboration with Prof. Michael Sheetz’s lab (UTMB) and Prof. Erez Lieberman Aiden’s lab (Baylor College of Medicine), explores the effect of the matrix rigidity sensor on genome organization and gene expression, from ensemble-level to single-level methods. Recent studies have shown that variations in rigidity sensing (which is critical for proper cell growth) can alter the nuclear morphology and the gene expression profile. However, the mechanism by which the rigidity matrix can regulate gene expression remains unclear. By using genome-wide and single-cell methods, we aim to determine whether genome organization is altered in response to variations in matrix rigidity and may result in gene expression changes, and if these changes correlate with cell morphology. We suggest that regulation of gene expression through rigidity sensing is facilitated by repositioning Lamina-Associated Domains (LADs). Since LADs are coupled to actin-myosin contraction, a change in this contraction, may induce structural variations and can alter transcriptional program. Prior to my arrival at UTMB, originally from Israel, I conducted my Ph.D. research in biophysics at the Physics Department and Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Institute, Bar-Ilan University (BIU), Israel. My PhD research focused on genome organization in the eukaryotic cell nucleus. Specifically, I studied the effect of nuclear structural proteins on chromatin dynamics. I employed live imaging methods to characterize the dynamic and elastic properties of the chromatin and its organization in living cells. I developed and used advanced optical microscopy and biophysical methods, and required the use of physical models for interpreting the data. I have a great interest in comprehensive research questions in cell biology and genetics, aimed to shed light on the fundamental function, organization and mechanisms of the DNA and RNA in the cell, with an emphasis on disease therapy and pathologies. My love for research, along with my desire to learn new things, make my time at the lab truly enjoyable! Outside the lab, I love drawing, sketching, dancing, and traveling with my family, exploring the Lone Star State.