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Department of

Photo of Gayathri   Pananghat

Gayathri Pananghat

Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Curriculum and Scheduling)


Structural Biology of Cytoskeletal Systems



Gayathri Pananghat obtained her PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. After a brief stint at IISER Pune as a visiting faculty, she pursued her postdoctoral research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK. She joined as INSPIRE Faculty at IISER Pune in 2013, and as an Assistant Professor from 2016.


Bacterial cytoskeleton in motility and shape

Cytoskeletal assemblies of protein molecules play a pivotal role in vital functions of the cell such as shape determination, motility, cell division and active positioning of molecules within the cell. Major classes of cytoskeletal proteins in eukaryotes are actin, tubulin and intermediate filaments. These filamentous assemblies and associated proteins such as molecular motors (eg. myosin, dynein and kinesin) and small Ras-like GTPases are well characterized in eukaryotes.

A variety of prokaryotic equivalents of actin and tubulin have been identified. However, very few proteins associated with the bacterial cytoskeleton and their functions have been characterized. Bacteria also possess novel cytoskeletal filaments other than of actin or tubulin fold, with unknown function. Since molecular motors such as myosin, dynein and kinesin have not been identified by sequence-based searches, the functional equivalents of these cytoskeleton-associated molecular motors in prokaryotes remain elusive.

In order to understand the functional equivalents of cytoskeleton-associated molecular motors in bacteria, the work in Dr. Gayatri Pananghat's group focuses on the mechanistic basis of biological processes typically performed by molecular motors in eukaryotes. With this goal, the group studies the molecular basis of cytoskeleton-based shape determination and motility.

Selected Publications

Harne, S., Duret, S., Pande, V., Bapat, M., Béven, L.*, Gayathri, P.* (2020) MreB5 is a determinant of rod-to-helical transition in the cell wall less bacterium Spiroplasma. Curr Biol, 30, 4753-4762.

Kanade, M., Chakraborty, S., Shelke, S.S., Gayathri, P. (2020) A distinct motif in a prokaryotic small Ras-like GTPase highlights unifying features of Walker B motifs in P-loop NTPases. J Mol Biol, 432, 5544-5564.

Kanade, M., Singh, N.B., Lagad, S., Baranwal, J., Gayathri, P. (2020) Dual specificity of a prokaryotic GTPase Activating Protein (GAP) to two Ras-like GTPases in Myxococcus xanthus. FEBS J, doi:10.1111/febs.15513.

Zambon, P., Palani, S., Jadhav, S.S., Gayathri, P., Balasubramanian, M.K. (2020). Genetic suppression of defective profiling by attenuated Myosin II reveals a potential role for Myosin II in actin dynamics in vivo in fission yeast. Mol Biol Cell, doi/10.1091/mbc.E20-04-0224.

Baranwal, J., Lhospice, S., Kanade, M., Chakraborty, S., Gade, P.R., Harne, S., Herrou, J., Mignot, T., Gayathri, P. (2019) Allosteric regulation of a prokaryotic small Ras-like GTPase contributes to polarity oscillations in bacterial motility. PLOS Biology, doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000459.