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Roberto Weigert, Ph.D.

Roberto Weigert, Ph.D.Tenure Track Investigator
Chief, Intracellular Membrane Trafficking Unit

BETHESDA, MD 20892-4340

Phone: (301) 496-9969
Fax:(301) 496-1966
Cell: (301) 803-8129

Biographical Sketch

Roberto Weigert got his B.Sc. in chemistry in 1992 at the University of Catania (Italy). He joined the Department of Cell Biology at the Mario Negri Institute (Dr. Alberto Luini), where he studied the mechanism of formation of transport intermediates from the Golgi apparatus. He received his Ph.D. in 2000 from the Open University of London and in 2001 joined the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH as a research fellow in the Laboratory of Cell Biology (Dr. Julie Donaldson). During his fellowship, Dr. Weigert studied the machinery regulating clathrin-independent endocytic pathways. In 2006, he joined the NIDCR as chief of the Intracellular Membrane Trafficking Unit, where he has developed novel approaches based on intravital microscopy to study various aspects of membrane trafficking in live animals.

Research Interests

Intracellular membrane trafficking plays a key role in many basic cellular processes and unraveling its complex regulation at a molecular level is a fundamental step in understanding physiological and pathological events in different organs. However most of the studies in this field have been carried out in in vitro model systems, such as cultured cells. Although these model systems that can be easily imaged and manipulated have provided invaluable information on the molecular machineries regulating several subcellular events, they have major limitations since they do not always recapitulate the complex characteristics of the living tissues in their native environment. To overcome this issue, we have combined the use of live animals with light microscopy techniques, such as intravital two-photon (TPM) and confocal microscopy, which enable the direct observation of the process of interest at a subcellular resolution. This has been complemented with the development of a series of pharmacological, molecular and genetic tools that have enabled us to investigate the process of interest at the molecular level.

In the last years our effort has been directed towards the development of two experimental systems in live animals to investigate the role of membrane trafficking in the physio-pathology of the oral cavity: the first, aimed at studying membrane trafficking under physiological conditions and based on the use of the rodent salivary glands (SGs) as a model organ; the second, aimed at studying membrane trafficking under pathological conditions and based on the use of an orthotopic implant of squamous cell carcinoma in the tongue of immunocompromised mice, a well-established model for head and neck cancer. Moreover, since intravital two-photon microscopy provides the opportunity to image biological processes at high resolution without the need for exogenous labeling we are in the process of exploiting this technique as a non-invasive diagnostic tool for various diseases of the oral cavity, such as Sjögren's syndrome, radiotherapy-induced damage and detection of pre-cancerous lesions.

Selected Publications

  1. Amornphimoltham P, Rechache K, Thompson J, Masedunskas A, Leelahavanichkul K, Patel V, Molinolo A, Gutkind JS, and Weigert R. Rab25 regulates invasion and metastasis in head and neck cancer (2013) Clin. Can. Res. (in press)
  2. Porat-Shliom N, Milberg O, Masedunskas A, Weigert R. Multiple roles for the actin cytoskeleton during regulated exocytosis (2012) Cell Mol Life Sci. (in press)
  3. Wu XS, Masedunskas A, Weigert R, Copeland NG, Jenkins NA, and Hammer JA. Melanoregulin regulates a shedding mechanism that drives melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(31):E2101-9
  4. Sramkova M, Masedunskas A, and Weigert R. Plasmid DNA is internalized from the apical plasma membrane of the salivary gland epithelium in live animals. (2012) Histochem and Cell Biol 138(2): 201-213
  5. Patel V, Marsh CA, Dorsam RT, Masedunskas A, Amornphimoltham P, Nathan CO, Singh B, Weigert R, Molinolo AA, and Gutkind JS. Decreased Lymphangiogenesis and Lymph Node Metastasis by mTOR Inhibition in Head and Neck Cancer (2011) Cancer Research 71(22):7103-12
  6. Yagi H, Tan W, Dillenburg-Pilla P, Armando S, Amornphimoltham P, Simaan, M, Weigert R, Molinolo AA, Bouvier M, Gutkind JS. A Synthetic Biology Approach Reveals a CXCR4-G13-Rho Signaling Axis Driving Transendothelial Migration of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells. (2011) Science Signaling 4(191):ra60
  7. Masedunskas A, Sramkova M, Parente L, Sales KU, Amornphimoltham P, Bugge TH, and Weigert R, Role for the acto-myosin complex in regulated exocytosis revealed by intravital microscopy (2011) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108(33):13552-7
  8. Amornphimoltham P, Masedunskas A, and Weigert R., Intravital microscopy as a tool to study drug delivery in preclinical studies (2011) Adv. Drug. Del. Rev. 63(1-2):119-28
  9. Sales KU, Masedunskas A., Bey A.L., Rasmussen A.L, Weigert R., List K., Szabo R., Overbeek P., and Bugge T.H. Matriptase initiates activation of epidermal pro-kallikrein and disease onset in a mouse model of Netherton syndrome. (2010) Nat. Genet. 42(8):676-83
  10. Sakurai A., Gavard J., Annas-Linhares Y., Basile J.R., Amornphimoltham P., Palmby T., Yagi Y., Zhang F., Randazzo P., Li X., Weigert R., and Gutkind, J.S. Semaphorin 3E initiates antiangiogenic signaling signaling through plexin D1 by regulating Arf6 and R-Ras (2010) Mol Cell Biol 30(12):3086-98
  11. Weigert R., Sramkova M., Amornphimoltham P., Parente, L. and and Masedunskas A. Intravital microscopy as a novel tool to study cell biology in live animals (2010) Histochem and Cell Biol May; 133(5):481-491
  12. Sramkova M., Masedunskas A., Parente L., Molinolo A., and Weigert R. Expression of plasmid DNA in the salivary gland epithelium: novel approaches to study dynamic cellular processes in live animals (2009) Am. J Physiol Cell Physiol Dec 297(6):C1347-57
  13. Gavard J, Hou X, Qu Y., Masedunskas A., Martin D., Weigert R., Li X, and Gutkind J.S., A Role for a CXCR2/PI3K{gamma} Signaling Axis in Acute and Chronic Vascular Permeability (2009) Mol Cell Biol. 29(9): 2468-80
  14. Bhirde A.A., Patel V., Gavard, J., Zhang G., , Sousa A.A., Masedunskas A., Leapman R.D., Weigert R., , Gutkind J.S., and Rusling, J.F. Targeted Killing of Cancer Cells in vivo and in vitro with EGF-directed Carbon Nanotube-based Drug Delivery (2009) ACS Nano 24; 3(2):307-16
  15. Masedunskas, A. and Weigert, R. Intravital two-photon microscopy for studying the uptake and trafficking of fluorescently-conjugated molecules in live rodents (2008) Traffic 9(10): 1801-10

Complete CV and Publications (PDF - 36 KB)

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014