Drosophila Nuclear Actin Laboratory

Group leader




The most dynamic component of the cytoskeleton in every eukaryotic cell is the microfilament network of linear polymers of actin subunits. Extensive research in the past decade has significantly broadened our view about the role actin plays in the life of the cell and added novel aspects to actin research. One of these new aspects is the discovery of the existence of nuclear actin which became evident only recently. In the nucleus, actin has been linked to a variety of processes including transcription and transcription regulation, RNA processing and export, chromatin organization and remodeling, DNA repair, or even nuclear envelope assembly.

One of our main research projects is focusing on the biological significance of nuclear actin and investigates the robustness of the mechanisms ensuring the nuclear localization of actin. We use the excellent model system, Drosophila melanogaster, and combine genetic and cell biological methods to find direct evidence supporting our models.

Our research group examines also the nuclear functions of the actin-binding ERM proteins. The numerous and important functions of the actin cytoskeleton are enabled and achieved by at least 80 actin-binding proteins in the cytoplasm. Members of the actin binding Ezrin-Radixin-Moesin (ERM) protein family of vertebrates are major regulators of actin dynamics in the cell by crosslinking membrane proteins to the cortical actin network. The three paralogs are present in vertebrates, whereas other species, (e.g. Drosophila) have only one ERM gene. ERMs have pivotal role in cell adhesion, cell movements and intracellular membrane trafficking processes therefore are key players in cell polarity, morphogenesis and tumor metastasis.

Through the investigation of Moesin, the only representative of ERMs in Drosophila, we demonstrated that ERMs are present in the nucleus where they participate in mRNA export.

Nuclear localization of Drosophila Moesin. A) The distribution pattern of Moesin in a polytenic, interphase nucleus. B) The accumulation of Moesin (red) in the nucleus (blue - DAPI).


Recently, we generated a mutant in which all the cell nuclei lack or have reduced amount of Moesin. With the help of this mutant we aim to determine the biological significance of the nuclear localization of Moesin, and the problems caused by the decrease in nuclear protein level. These experiments helped us to discover that nuclear Moesin is required for the normal transcription of heat-shock induced chaperon genes.

A) The genitalia are rotated in males lacking Moesin in their cell nuclei.

B) The expression of heat shock chaperons is decreased (green) in the mutant animals.


To study the role ERMs play in the nucleus, we use advanced light microscopy, biochemical and molecular biological methods, and the fruit-fly and cultured Drosophila cells as well.

Group members


principal investigator


postdoctoral fellow


research associate


research associate


research associate


PhD student


undergraduate student


scientific administrator

Péter VILMOS principal investigator Publications CV
Ildikó KRISTÓ postdoctoral fellow Publications CV
Csaba BAJUSZ research associate Publications CV
Anikó SZABÓ research associate Publications CV
Péter BORKÚTI research associate Publications CV
Zoltán KOVÁCS PhD student
Réka BENKE undergraduate student
Csilla ABONYI scientific administrator