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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.

Teaching Activity

Undergraduate modules:

Level 4

BY1CB1 Cell Biology (module coordinator)

BC1004 Cells to Systems

BY1MB1 Molecular Biology

BY1MI1, BC1007 Microbiology

BY1SK1 Key Skills

Level 5:

BY2MI1 Microbiology

BY2KS1 Key Skills

Level 6:

BY3BD2 Biological Basis of Human Disease (module coordinator)

BY3PR1, BY3PR2, BY3PR3 Project

Postgraduate Modules:

BY4KS1 MBiol Key Skils (module coordinator)

BI4032 Project

BI4104 Cellular Differentiation and Stem Cell Biology

BI4106 Tissue regeneration

Qualifications

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

Employment

2014- present  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

Contact Details

Phone Number:  0121 204 3967
Email: z.balklava@aston.ac.uk
Room number: MB343A

Education/Academic qualification

FHEA

Award Date: 7 Jul 2015

Keywords

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

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Research Output

Association of novel monomethine cyanine dyes with bacteriophage MS2: A fluorescence study

Vus, K., Tarabara, U., Balklava, Z., Nerukh, D., Stich, M., Laguta, A., Vodolazkaya, N., Mchedlov-Petrossyan, N. O., Farafonov, V., Kriklya, N., Gorbenko, G., Trusova, V., Zhytniakivska, O., Kurutos, A., Gadjev, N. & Deligeorgiev, T., 15 Mar 2020, In : Journal of Molecular Liquids. 302, 112569.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • A cell-permeable tool for analysing APP intracellular domain function and manipulation of PIKfyve activity

    Guscott, B., Balklava, Z., Safrany, S. T. & Wassmer, T., 15 Apr 2016, In : Bioscience Reports. 36, 2, e00319.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • APP controls the formation of PI(3,5)P2 vesicles through its binding of the PIKfyve complex

    Currinn, H., Guscott, B., Balklava, Z., Rothnie, A. & Wassmer, T., Jan 2016, In : Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 73, 2, p. 393-408 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • Linking gene expression in the intestine to production of gametes through the phosphate transporter PITR-1 in Caenorhabditis elegans

    Balklava, Z., Rathnakumar, N. D., Vashist, S., Schweinsberg, P. J. & Grant, B. D., 1 Sep 2016, In : Genetics. 204, 1, p. 153-162 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • The amyloid precursor protein controls PIKfyve function

    Balklava, Z., Niehage, C., Currinn, H., Mellor, L., Guscott, B., Poulin, G., Hoflack, B. & Wassmer, T., 30 Jun 2015, In : PLoS ONE. 10, 6, 18 p., e0130485.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    File
  • Thesis

    Investigating novel interaction partners of amyloid precursor protein: the mechanistic target of rapamycin and pikyve complex

    Author: Guscott, B., 5 Dec 2016

    Supervisor: Wassmer, T. (Supervisor), Balklava, Z. (Supervisor) & Parri, H. R. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

    File

    Role of fibroblast growth factor receptor in regulation of membrane traffic

    Author: Rathnakumar, N. D., 23 Feb 2016

    Supervisor: Wassmer, T. (Supervisor) & Balklava, Z. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

    File

    Activities

    • 1 Publication peer-review

    PLoS ONE (Journal)

    Zita Balklava (Peer reviewer)

    20112012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review