GSK Student Gregory Mazo Awarded 2017 Chairman’s Prize

Gregory Mazo

Gregory Mazo has been awarded the Chairman’s Prize for his first-author paper Spatial Control of Primary Ciliogenesis by Subdistal Appendages Alters Sensation-Associated Properties of Cilia, published in Developmental Cell in 2016. Greg, who successfully defended his dissertation and will receive his doctorate degree in September of 2017, completed his graduate research in the laboratory of Meng-Fu Bryan Tsou.

Greg describes his paper below:

“Primary cilia are hair-like organelles that function as ‘cellular antennas’ to sense a variety of signals. Logically, antenna functions should require a cell surface organelle. However, many vertebrate cells maintain “submerged cilia” which are confined inside a deep pit, an unlikely location for signaling. The mechanisms controlling cilia position have long been a complete mystery.

We found that the structures called the subdistal appendages (sDAP) function redundantly with the protein C-Nap1 for submerged cilia maintenance. Simultaneous loss of sDAP and C-Nap1 allows normally submerged cilia to fully surface. Unlike the stationary submerged cilia, surfaced cilia respond to mechanical stimuli with motion. As no cilia position phenotype had ever been reported before, this work represents important progress in the understanding of cilia position.

Furthermore, surfaced cilia can also ectopically recruit Hedgehog-signaling components in the absence of ligand. The difference in composition between surfaced and submerged cilia implies that they are functionally distinct.”

The Chairman’s Prize, awarded annually, was established by Gerstner Sloan Kettering Board of Trustees Chair Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., for whom the graduate school is named. Mr. Gerstner is an internationally renowned corporate leader who has long been an advocate of quality education.