Brigitte Ritter

Assistant Professorritter

Boston University School of Medicine
Silvio Conte Building, K-123E
72 E. Concord Street
Boston, MA 02118

Phone: 617-638-5064
Lab Phone: 617-638-5074
Fax: 617-638-5339

Email: britter

Education:

1997-2001  Diploma in Biology and Ph.D., Institute for Biochemistry II, Medical Faculty of the University of Cologne, Germany

2001-2012  Post-doctoral fellow and research associate, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

People

Lisa Brenan
Research Technician
John Chamberland
Graduate Student
Amanda Carlozzi
Undergraduate Student
Ian Paolo Mauricio
Undergraduate Student

Research Interests:

Receptor trafficking in health and disease

Cells constantly insert and remove receptor proteins at the cell surface to internalize nutrients and signaling molecules and to respond to changes in the extracellular environment. Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is the major receptor internalization route in eukaryotic cells and controls the cell surface levels of numerous receptor classes including nutrient receptors such as transferrin and LDL receptors , signaling receptors such as EGF receptor and other receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), and cell-cell and cell-matrix receptors such as cadherins and integrins, respectively. Following internalization, receptors are then sorted through an elaborate, not yet well-understood endosomal system that either allows receptors to enter into a variety of recycling pathways to return to the cell surface, or sorts receptors to lysosomes for degradation. Importantly, receptor sorting is also directly linked to receptor function. For example, growth factor-bound EGF receptor triggers different signaling cascades at the cell surface and on endosomes and in fact, needs to be delivered to lysosomes to terminate signaling events.

Our research focus is to understand how receptor transport controls and drives complex physiological processes. We combine molecular biology, protein biochemistry and cell biology approaches to define the protein machineries and to reveal the mechanisms driving receptor internalization and sorting, spanning the range from studying  protein-protein interactions on the amino acid level, over determining the role of these proteins in the internalization and subsequent transport of receptors in various cell systems including neurons, to analyzing the impact of impairing the function of these proteins on physiological processes such as cell migration and differentiation, plasticity, and cell signaling. In particular, we want to understand how endosomal sorting determines the signaling potential of RTKs and how misregulation of these sorting decisions contributes to tumorigenicity and cancer. A second focus is on understanding how changes in the trafficking of receptors for ApoE, an important genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, affect neuronal function and promote the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research Themes:

Signal Transduction and Cancer
Neuroscience & Aging

Representative Publications:

PubMed Search