Hui-Chia Yu-Kemp Alumna page



Background & Contact Information

Currently: Scientist II, Protein Chemistry at Life Edit Therapeutics


Postdoctoral Fellow (2017 – 2021)
Education: PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology, 2016., University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, (Advisor William Brieher)

Fellowships & Awards: Lineberger Cancer Center Postdoctoral Training Grant (2017-2019)



Research Information

The contractile force generated by the actin cytoskeleton powers many cellular events, from supporting cell shape to cell movement to driving development.  How cells build this contractile structure  and connect it to cell-cell junctions is not yet clear.

My research interests lie in defining the mechanisms cells use to assemble their contractile machinery, with a focus on the actomyosin structures found at the zonula adherens of epithelial cells.  I also want to understand how a monolayer balances forces among cells. Our lab combines the use of cultured mammalian cells and Drosophila.  Earlier work from our lab focused on Canoe, the fly homolog of mammalian Afadin, and its roles in linking cell junctions to the actomyosin cytoskeleton during morphogenesis.  More recent studies from our lab showed that depletion of ZO- family proteins in cultured MDCK cells can induce the formation of a dramatic, contractile actomyosin strcutreus at the cadherin-based zonula adherens, elevating contractility at the apical surface. The same study also revealed the important role of Afadin, mammalian homolog for Drosophila Canoe, in balancing force exerted by this actomyosin array at the tricellular junctions.  Using both candidate approaches and BioID-based mass spectroscopy, we have identified potential molecules involved in the formation  and maintenance of this contractile array.  These include many molecules with defined roles in regulating the actin cytoskeleton, as well as molecules that have been less well studied, including a Rap1 GEF. Rap1 is an essential cue upstream of afadin, yet its role in controlling the contractile actin network is still an open question. My research will focus on how different proteins work together and signal coordinately for force generation, and how those molecules effect changes in individual cell shapes and affect overall epithelial integrity in cultured MDCK cells.  In parallel I will explore their roles in developmental processes during Drosophila embryogenesis.

  • Yu-Kemp, H.-C., Szymanski, R.A., Cortes, D.B., Gadda, N.C., Lillich, M.I., Maddox, A.S., and Peifer, M. (2021) Micron-scale supramolecular myosin arrays help mediate  cytoskeletal assembly at mature adherens junctions.  Journal of Cell Biology 221:e202103074.
  • Yu-Kemp, H.-C., and Peifer, M.  (2020).  Good fences make good neighbors: Crumbs regulates Rho-kinase dynamics to assemble a tissue boundary.  Developmental Cell 52, 255-256
  • Yu-Kemp HC, Kemp JP Jr, and Brieher WM (2017), “CRMP-1 enhances EVL-mediated actin elongation to build lamellipodia and the actin cortex”, Journal of Cell Biology, 216: 2463-2479.
  • Yu-Kemp HC and Brieher WM (2016), “Regulating Arp2/3-dependent actin assembly by Collapsin Response Mediator Protein-1”, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 291:658-664.
  • Chen SC, Shen CY, Yen TM, Yu HC, Chang TH, Lai WL, Liaw SH. (2013), “Evolution of vitamin B2 biosynthesis: eubacterial RibG and fungal Rib2 deaminases”, Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography, 69:227-236.
  • Lin JL, Yu HC, Chao JL, Wang C, Cheng MY. (2012), “New phenotypes generated by the G57R mutation of BUD23 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae”, Yeast, 12:537-546.
  • Chen SC, Lin YH, Yu HC, Liaw SH. (2008), “Complex structure of Bacillus subtilis RIBG: the reduction mechanism during riboflavin biosynthesis”, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:1725-1731.­


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