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Enrique Rodriguez-Boulan Laboratory

Epithelial Polarity and Retinal Cell Biology


Our laboratory studies basic mechanisms involved in the generation of epithelial cell polarity using two model systems, the polarized epithelial cell line MDCK (Figure 1) and the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (Figure 2). We study the causes of Age Related Macular Degeneration, a disease in which the RPE plays a key role. Our laboratory discovered in 1978 that enveloped viruses, such as influenza virus bud in a polarized manner from the cell surface. Note the apical budding of influenza in Figure 1. This model led to the elucidation of the trafficking routes of MDCK cells (see Research page). We are also interested in the Cell Biology and Diseases of Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE), which plays a key support role for both retina and photoreceptors (Figure 2). Note the position of the retina at back of the eye (a), the position of RPE below the photoreceptor layer (b). Figure 2c shows punctate lesions, termed Drusen, at the back of the eye of a patient with AMD.