If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research Interests

Membrane trafficking pathways target various molecules to their specific destinations within the cell as well as in and out of the cell, and thus are essential for fundamental aspects of eukaryotic life including nutrient uptake, growth factor regulation, synaptic signal transduction, infection, etc. Importance of these pathways is illustrated by the growing number of diseases and cancers associated with defects in these pathways.

A number of reports have shown that various signalling molecules physically associate with intracellular membranes, thus being ideally placed to control membrane traffic or traffic-mediated signalling. The research in my laboratory aims to understand how membrane trafficking and cell signalling are coupled within the cell.

During my post-doctoral studies I performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in soil nematode C. elegans to find novel regulators of membrane traffic. In this work, many new components involved in vesicular trafficking and/or cell signalling were identified. Since then the powerful genetics in combination with the relatively simple cellular complexity of C. elegans has been proven to be beneficial in studying membrane transport and cell signalling pathways in vivo.

Currently, work in my lab focuses on understanding the cross-talk of membrane trafficking and cell signalling within the cell via deciphering interactions and trafficking of several membrane proteins/receptors:

 

1)    Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor (FGFR): understanding how FGFR and its downstream signalling pathways regulate membrane trafficking;

2)    Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP): dissecting physiological role of APP by studying its trafficking, the interactors of its intracellular domain and the biological consequences of these interactions. 

3)    Aquaporin 4 (AQP4): identifying the key membrane transport regulators involved in trafficking AQP4 between the plasma membrane and intracellular vesicles in response to changes in osmolarity.

Recently I have established a collaboration to study the role of Stress Granules in C. elegans Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease models. 

Stress granules (SGs) are dense aggregations of protein and mRNA molecules and are highly dynamic structures reflecting cellular stress response. They rapidly form in the presence of acute stress, and rapidly disassemble once the stressor is removed, playing an essential role to cell survival following stress. However, abnormal accumulation of SGs contributes to the pathology of several neurodegenerative diseases. In pathological conditions, the presence of a persistent stress allows time for SGs to mature into more stable complexes, with important consequences for the cellular metabolism. 

Teaching Activity

Undergraduate modules:

Level 4

BB4CTS Cells to Systems (module coordinator)

BB4BMC Biomolecules

BM4MAP/BL4MAP/BC4MOM coordinator for tutorials and lab skills

BB4MAG Microbiology and Genetics

Level 5:

BB5MOP Mechanisms of Pathology

BL5HUD/BM5GHD Human Disease

Level 6:

BY3BD2 Biological Basis of Human Disease (module coordinator)

Undergaraduate final year projects

Postgraduate Modules:

BY4KS2 MBiol Key Skils (module coordinator)

MSc/MBiol/MRes projects

BI4SCB Stem Cell Biology

BI4REG Tissue regeneration

BI4CMB Cell and Molecular Biology

Qualifications

1996    BSc in Biology, University of Latvia
1998    MSc in Biology, University of Latvia
2002    PhD in Biochemistry, Nottingham Trent University

2015    Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Higher Education, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

2021     Senior Fellow of the Advance HE (SFHEA)

Employment

2022- present Senior Lecturer, Aston University

2014-2022  Lecturer, Aston University

2009-2014 Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, Aston University

2008-2009 Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, University of Manchester (UK)

2008          Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Manchester (UK) 

2003-2007 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Rutgers- the State University of New Jersey (USA) 

2002-2003 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (USA)

Membership of Professional Bodies

British Society for Cell Biology

Biochemical Society

Alzheimer's Research UK West Midlands network coordinator

Contact Details

Phone Number:  0121 204 3967
Email: z.balklava@aston.ac.uk
Room number: MB438L

Education/Academic qualification

SFHEA

Award Date: 5 Oct 2021

External positions

Review editor for Frontiers in Physiology

Keywords

  • Q Science (General)
  • Alzheimer's Disease, vesicular trafficking, cell signalling, aquaporin, C. elegans

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics where Zita Balklava is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Network

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or