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Headshot of Grant Luxton

G.W. Gant Luxton, Ph.D.

University of California, Davis

Bio:

G.W. Gant Luxton is an Associate Professional Researcher/Principal Investigator of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Davis. His laboratory investigates the role of the nucleus during mechanotransduction, or the fundamental ability of cells to sense and respond to mechanical forces. Their lens on nuclear mechanotransduction is the conserved nuclear envelope-spanning molecular bridge known as the linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complex, which mechanically integrates the nucleus with the cytoskeleton and consequently the extracellular environment. They use a suite of cutting-edge biophysical, cell biological, quantitative imaging, and synthetic biological approaches to investigate the assembly of functional LINC complexes as well as how LINC complex dysfunction contributes to human neuromuscular disease pathogenesis.

Dr. Luxton was trained as a virologist in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory A. Smith at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. During his graduate career, Dr. Luxton revealed novel mechanistic insights into alpha-herpesvirus neuroinvasion by identifying the viral tegument protein pUL36 as the key mediator of microtubule-dependent capsid transport in infected neurons and non-neuronal cells. Next, Dr. Luxton joined the laboratory of Dr. Gregg G. Gundersen at Columbia University Irving Medical Center as a postdoctoral fellow. There, Dr. Luxton helped establish rearward nuclear movement during centrosome orientation in wounded fibroblast monolayers as the premiere assay for investigating the mechanisms of nuclear-cytoskeletal coupling by LINC complexes as well as the impact of genetic mutations in nuclear envelope proteins associated with human diseases (i.e. nuclear laminopathies) on LINC complex function. Dr. Luxton’s research lead to the discovery of transmembrane actin-associated nuclear (TAN) lines, which are linear arrays of LINC complexes composed of the KASH protein nesprin-2G and the SUN protein SUN2 that harness the forces generated by the retrograde flow of perinuclear actin cables to move the nucleus rearward during centrosome orientation in fibroblasts polarizing for migration.

In 2011, Dr. Luxton established his research group at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. In 2016, he was named a HHMI Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence in 2016. In 2018, he was named a Whitman Center Early Career Fellow by the Marine Biological Laboratory as well as a Scialog Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In 2020, Dr. Luxton moved his research group to the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Davis.