Biological Sciences

Faculty Research

Qian Chen


Qian Chen

Assistant Professor
Office:          WO  4267B
Phone No:     419-530-1594
Lab website:




Actin, a ubiquitous eukaryotic protein, plays an essential role in many biological processes of human cells including muscle contraction, immune response, and cell proliferation. We are interested in understanding how actin-assembled cellular structures drive and regulate cell proliferation. We employ yeast genetics, high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, and computational image analysis in our research.
Two main focuses of our lab are:
1. Regulation of actin structures during cell proliferation. Actin structures undergo constant turnover during cell division through their interactions with dozens of actin-binding proteins by unknown mechanisms. We aim to understand this process with quantitative microscopy.
2. Crosstalk between actin structures and signaling pathways during cell proliferation. A few kinase cascades serve as the master regulators of cell division but their interaction with actin is poorly understood. We are studying how such a cascade, the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway, interacts with actin structures.

Current Graduate Students:

Abhishek Poddar

Debatrayee Sinha



Naomi Courtemanche*, Thomas Pollard and Qian Chen*. (2016) Avoiding artefacts when counting polymerized actin in live cells with LifeAct fused to fluorescent proteins. *, Equal contribution. Nature Cell Biology, 18(6):676-83.

Qian Chen, Naomi Courtemanche and Thomas Pollard. (2015) Aip1 promotes actin filament severing by cofilin and regulates the constriction of the cytokinetic contractile ring. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 290(4):2289-300.

Qian Chen and Thomas Pollard. (2013) Actin filament severing by cofilin dismantles actin patches and produces mother filaments for new patches. Current Biology, 23(13):1154-62. (Recommended on F1000, commentary at

Qian Chen, Shalini Nag and Thomas Pollard. (2012) Formins filter modified actin subunits during processive elongation. Journal of Structural Biology,177(1):32-9.

Qian Chen and Thomas Pollard. (2011) Actin filament severing by cofilin is more important for assembly than constriction of the cytokinetic contractile ring. Journal of Cell Biology 195(3): 485-498 (Highlighted by JCB in its Journal Club and a Video “Biosights: October 31, 2011 - Cofilin severs the ties between cytokinetic nodes” on YouTube).

Hui Li, Qian Chen, Markus Kaller, Wolfgang Nellen, Ralph Graf & Arturo De Lozanne. (2008) Dictyostelium Aurora kinase has properties of both Aurora A and Aurora B kinases. Eukaryotic Cell 7(5): 894-905.

Qian Chen, Gandikota S. Lakshmikanth, James A. Spudich, and Arturo De Lozanne (2007). The localization of INCENP at the cleavage furrow is dependent on Kif12 and involves interactions of the N-Terminus of INCENP with the actin cytoskeleton. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 18( 9): 3366-74.

Qian Chen, Hui Li and Arturo De Lozanne. (2006) Contractile ring-independent localization of DdINCENP, a protein important for spindle stability and cytokinesis. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 17(2):779-88.

Qian Chen, Yingchun Wang, Liming Zhang, Wenbin Li and Yongru Sun. (2001) The cloning of a tapetum-specific promoter and the construction of transgenic male-sterile Arabidopsis. Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology, 1, 62

Last Updated: 7/23/19