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


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

BU Profile


John Chamberland
Graduate Student
Amanda Carlozzi
Undergraduate Student

Research Interests:

Receptor trafficking in health and disease

Intracellular receptor transport controls how cells interact with and respond to their environment by modulating the cell surface proteom. Intracellular sorting also regulates the localization and function of receptors and enzymes within the cell. The importance of intracellular transport pathways for normal cell function is emphasized by the fact that their misregulation is a direct cause of numerous human diseases including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, for most transport pathways, the protein machineries and regulatory mechanisms that govern cargo selection and the formation of vesicles and tubules that deliver cargo to its destination remain elusive.

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. As such, endocytosis controls how cells sense and respond to their environment. 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.

The focus of our research is to understand how receptor transport controls and drives complex physiological processes. We combine molecular biology, protein biochemistry, microscopy and cell biology approaches to define the protein machineries and mechanisms driving intracellualr receptor transport, spanning the range from studying  protein-protein interactions on the amino acid level, over determining the role of these proteins in receptor transport in various cell systems, to analyzing the impact of impairing the function of these proteins on physiological processes such as cell migration, epithelial differentiation, and cell signaling. In particular, we want to understand how endosomal sorting determines the function of RTKs and how misregulation of these sorting decisions contributes to tumorigenicity and cancer metastasis. A second project aims to understand how changes in the trafficking of Glut4 and insulin receptor affect adipocyte function and insulin response and promote the development and progression of insulin resistance and diabetes. Our long-term goal is to find ways to manipulate intracellular sorting decisions such that we can modulate the fate, function and activity of receptor proteins that are key to disease development and progression.

Research Themes:

Representative Publications:

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