IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor: John M. Robinson, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

1st - 31st July 2010

Photo of Dr John M. Robinson

John M. Robinson is a Professor of Physiology and Cell Biology at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

He has been involved in studies related to correlative microscopy in biomedical science.  Correlative microscopy is the examination of the exact same structures (e.g., sub-cellular structures) by two or more imaging modalities.  Specifically, he has focused on combined fluorescence optical microscopy and electron microscopy.  This combined imaging is more data-rich than either of the imaging modalities used separately.  His laboratory has developed methods that facilitate correlative microscopy with emphasis on the use of ultrathin cryosections of cells and tissues for combined fluorescence and electron immunocytochemistry.

Dr Robinson’s laboratory also studies the cellular and molecular basis of trafficking of IgG from the maternal circulation across the placenta to the fetal circulation.  The emphasis of these studies has been on the roles of IgG receptors (i.e., Fc-receptors) in the human and in genetic models in the mouse.

A recent research focus has been a proteomics analysis of the apical plasma membrane of the syncytiotrophoblast (STB) of the human placenta.  This plasma membrane is the direct interface between maternal blood and the developing fetus and is thus crucial for successful pregnancies.  Analysis of this sub-proteome has identified about 500 proteins with 20% of these proteins previously not known to be expressed in the human placenta.  Numerous proteins associated with membrane trafficking were identified as were the ferlins, dysferlin and myoferlin.  Prior to the acquisition of these data from the STB of the placenta, dysferlin and myoferlin were known only from skeletal muscle.  Mutations in dysferlin lead to muscle disease: limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B and Myoshi’s myopathy.  Dysferlin and myoferlin are also reported to function as repair proteins to “patch” damaged areas of the plasma membrane; it is thought that loss of this function leads to muscle disease.  Studies are ongoing to define the function of dysferlin and myoferlin in the placenta and trophoblastic cells.

Dr Robinson is working with Dr Paul Verkade (Senior Research Fellow, Departments of Physiology & Pharmacology, and Biochemistry) at the University of Bristol on a project combining live-cell real-time fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopic tomography for correlative microscopy to study the formation and maintenance of tubular lysosomes in macrophages.

Dr Robinson will present the following lecture as part of his Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professorship:

Placental Proteomics and Plasma Membrane Repair Proteins, Tue, 27 Jul, 1pm - 2pm, LT C42, School of Medical Sciences

For more information on Dr Robinson's visit, please contact Dr Paul Verkade.

For more details of Dr Robinson's research, please visit his homepage at OSU.