Caitlin Runne Defends Thesis

Caitlin Runne successfully passed her Ph.D. examination on Thursday, June 27, 2013. Her thesis title was "Function and Activation Mechanism of PLEKHG2, a Novel Gbg-Activated RhoGEF in Leukemia Cells". Members of her thesis committee were chair, Songhai Chen from the Departments of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine; Rory A. Fisher and John Koland, Departments of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine; Stefan Strack, Departments of Pharmacology and Pathology; Curt Sigmund, Departments of Pharmacology, Internal Medicine and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics; and Ernesto Fuentes from the Department of Biochemistry.

Dr. Runne's research focused on determining the pathological role of a novel Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor, PLEKHG2, in leukemia cells. Her work showed that PLEKHG2 regulates leukemia cell migration through the activation of Rac1 and Cac42. Further, she elucidated the mechanism of PLEKHG2 activation through the binding of Gbetagamma to the N-terminus to release C- terminal autoinhibition. She received her B.S in Biochemistry at Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY and began in the Pharmacology Ph.D. Program at Iowa in 2009. During research in Dr. Chen’s laboratory, Dr. Runne received an award on the NIH T32 in Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant and an NIH T32 in Interdisciplinary Traning Program for Pain Research.

Her plans in the coming months will be to start a postdoctoral position in Dr. Ernesto Fuentes’ lab where she will be continuing to work on RhoGEFs focusing on the protein Tiam 1.

Congratulations to Dr. Runne!