Peter Novick is the George E. Palade Professor in the department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at University of California, San Diego. He is a yeast cell biologist recognized for his work on the eukaryotic secretory pathway. He is known particularly for his studies on the role of the Rab GTPases in the regulation of intracellular membrane traffic. Novick was born in New York City in 1954. He grew up in New York, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in biology, and received a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 1981. He was on the faculty of Yale University School of Medicine before joining the University of California, San Diego in 2008.

Research Interests

Research in the Novick lab primarily concerns the regulation of intracellular membrane traffic by small GTPases known as Rab proteins. Rabs act by recruiting or activating downstream effectors that then control specific aspects of membrane traffic such as the vectorial transport of vesicles along cytoskeletal elements, the recognition of the vesicle by the target membrane and the fusion of the vesicle and target membranes. Regulatory networks coordinate one stage of traffic with the next through cascade mechanisms. Once a Rab is activated it recruits the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that activates the next Rab on the pathway. A counter-current cascade mechanism has been established in which a GTPase activating protein (GAP) that inactivates a specific Rab is recruited by the active form of a downstream Rab. The net effect of GEF cascades and counter-current GAP cascades is a programmed series of Rab conversions. With each Rab conversion a new set of effectors is recruited, leading to functional maturation of the membrane as it flows down the pathway. Rab effectors under study in the lab include a type V myosin motor, an octameric tethering complex called the exocyst, and a homolog of a tumor suppressor.

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Primary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology