A microscopy image showing layers in different colors and a network of neurons

Department of

Photo of Nagaraj  Balasubramanian

Nagaraj Balasubramanian

Associate Professor


Cell Biology: cell adhesion, trafficking, cell migration and growth



A cell-biologist by training, Dr. Nagaraj Balasubramanian graduated from the University of Mumbai (Bombay) with a bachelors and masters degrees in Microbiology. He worked in the Cancer Research Institute (now ACTREC) at the Tata Memorial Center for his PhD in Biochemistry. He took a break from cancer biology to do a postdoc in mammalian phototransduction at the University of Miami, only to return to cell and cancer biology focusing on cell adhesion and trafficking as a postdoc first and then a Research Assistant Professor in the lab of Dr. Martin Schwartz at the University of Virginia. Dr. Balasubramainan moved to IISER Pune to start his lab in 2010. The research interest of his group includes understanding how cell adhesion regulates trafficking and its implications in cell migration and anchorage dependence in 2D and 3D microenvironments. The group is also interested in exploring the role cell adhesion has in regulating organelle function and the implications this has for anchorage-dependent signalling and function.


Cell-matrix adhesion dependent regulation of cell organisation and function. Role in disease.

The lab is interested in understanding how the matrix microenvironment affects what cells do. The group studies how cell-matrix adhesion and its regulation of membrane trafficking, organelle architecture and signalling affects cell function. The focus is on caveolar endocytosis and exocyst dependent exocytosis, Golgi and mitochondrial organisation and function. Further, their studies test how this is deregulated in anchorage-independent cancers as they also aim to target these deregulated pathways (RalA-exocyst) using nanoparticle delivery systems to restore anchorage-dependence in cancers. Understanding how adhesion-dependent cell organisation and function is affected by changing matrix stiffness in 2D vs 3D microenvironment. The lab is also interested in extending their understanding of imaging capabilities in 3D to developing assays and extending the understanding of cellular behaviour in context of dental implants.

Selected Publications

Adhesion and caveolar endocytosis
Natasha Buwa, Nivedhika Kannan, Shaunak Kanade, Nagaraj Balasubramanian. 2021. Adhesion-dependent Caveolin-1 Tyrosine-14 phosphorylation is regulated by FAK in response to changing matrix stiffness. FEBS Letters. 595, 532–547.

Natasha Buwa, Debasmita Mazumdar & Nagaraj Balasubramanian. 2020. Caveolin1 Tyrosine-14 Phosphorylation: Role in Cellular Responsiveness to Mechanical Cues. The Journal of Membrane Biology. Volume 253, pages 509–534. (Issue Cover)

 M. A. del Pozo, N. Balasubramanian, N. B. Alderson, W. B. Kiosses, A. Grande, R.G.W. Anderson and M. A. Schwartz. (2005). Phospho-Caveolin-1 Mediates Integrin-Regulated Membrane Domain Internalization. Nature Cell Biology. 2005 Sep;7(9):901-8. (Cover of Nature Cell Biology, Sep 2005).

Adhesion and exocyst exocytosis
Siddhi Inchanalkar and Nagaraj Balasubramanian. Adhesion-growth factor crosstalk regulates AURKB activation and ERK signalling in re-adherent fibroblasts. J Biosci (2021) 46.

Archana Pawar, Jeremy A. Meier, Anwesha Dasgupta, Neha Diwanji, Neha Deshpande, Kritika Saxena, Natasha Buwa, Siddhi Inchanalkar, Martin Alexander Schwartz, Nagaraj Balasubramanian*. Ral-Arf6 crosstalk regulates Ral dependent exocyst trafficking and anchorage independent growth signalling. Cellular Signalling. Sep 2016, Volume 28, Issue 9, Pages 1225–1236.  - doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2016.05.023

Nagaraj Balasubramanian*, J. Meier, D. Scott, M., M.A. White, M. A. Schwartz. The RalA - exocyst complex regulates integrin-dependent membrane raft localization and anchorage dependent growth signaling. (2009). Current Biology. 2010 Jan 12;20(1):75-9.  - doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.11.016.

Nanovesicle drug targeting
Siddhi Inchanalkar, Nilesh Umakant Deshpande, Vishakha Kasherwal, Manickam Jayakannan and Nagaraj Balasubramanian. Polymer Nanovesicle mediated delivery of MLN8237 preferentially inhibits Aurora Kinase A to target RalA and Anchorage-Independent Growth in Breast Cancer Cells.  Molecular Pharmaceutics. 2018, 15 (8), pp 3046–3059.

P. S. Pramod#, Ruchira Shah#, Sonali Chapekar, Nagaraj Balasubramanian* and M. Jayakannan*. Polysaccharide Nano-vesicular Multidrug Carrier for Synergistic Killing of Cancer Cells. Nanoscale. Aug 2014. 6, 11841-11855 . (# equal contributors) - doi: 10.1039/c4nr03514c.

Cell-matrix adhesion and organelle function
Vibha Singh, Chaitanya Erady, Nagaraj Balasubramanian. Cell-matrix adhesion controls Golgi organization and function through Arf1 activation in anchorage-dependent cells.  Journal of Cell Science. 2018, J Cell Sci 2018 131: (JCS prelights). (JCS First Person) - doi: 10.1242/jcs.215855

Keerthi Harikrishnan*, Omkar Joshi, Saili Madangirikar and Nagaraj Balasubramanian*. Cell Derived Matrix Fibulin-1 Associates With Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor to Inhibit Its Activation, Localization and Function in Lung Cancer Calu-1 Cells. Front. Cell Dev. Biol., 03 July 2020. doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2020.00522

Dental implant studies
Vishakha Kasherwal, Neel B Bhatavadekar, Nagaraj Balasubramanian. Evaluating mouse fibroblast interaction with implant surfaces in a 3D microenvironment. International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants. (Sep 2021 – in press).

Neel B Bhatavadekar, Amit S Gharpure, Nagaraj Balasubramanium, E Todd Scheyer. In Vitro Surface Testing Methods for Dental Implants-Interpretation and Clinical Relevance: A Review. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2020 Mar;41(3):e1-e9.