Anthony Bretscher
Professor of Cell Biology
Member of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology

Anthony Bretscher




Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics
257 Weill Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-7202


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Lab Web Site
Department Profile


Tony Bretscher is a Professor of Cell Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and a senior faculty member of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology (ICMB). He is a member of the Graduate Fields of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Genetics and Development. After training as a physicist at the University of Cambridge, he obtained his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Leeds, studying gene regulation in E. coli. From there he went as an EMBO Fellow to the Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University, where he worked with Dale Kaiser on the genetics of cell-cell interactions during development in Myxococcus xanthus. He then went as a Max Planck Society Fellow to the Department of Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany, where he began his studies in cell biology with Klaus Weber. In 1980 he was appointed to the faculty in the Cell Biology Department at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. He moved to Cornell in 1981. He has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry  and Molecular Biology of the Cell, and is currently on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Cell Biology and Journal of Cell Science. 

He is also an author of the new edition of the Lodish et al. Molecular Cell Biology textbook.   Bretscher Book

Research Description

We are interested in the functional organization and regulation of microfilaments in eucaryotic cells. Microfilaments, which are composed of actin filaments and associated proteins, are involved in a host of functions, including the determination of cellular shape and providing the machinery for a variety of motile processes. We are using diverse biochemical, structural, genetic and cell biological approaches to investigate the general principles underlying microfilament structure and function in eucaryotic cells. Two major projects are underway. more

Selected Publications

Smith, W.J., Nassar, N., Bretscher, A., Cerione, R. A. & Karplus, P.A. (2003). Structure of the active FERM Domain of Ezrin: conformational and mobility changes identify keystone interactions.  J. Biol. Chem. 278, 4949-4956.

Bretscher A. (2003).  Polarized growth and organelle segregation in yeast - the tracks,  motors, and receptors. J. Cell Biol. 160, 811-816.

Dong, Y., Pruyne, D. & Bretscher, A. (2003). Two Rho pathways converge to regulate formin-dependent actin assembly in yeast.  J. Cell Biol. 161, 1081-1092.

Gundersen, G.G. & Bretscher, A. (2003). Microtubule asymmetry..  Science 300, 2040-2041.

Finnerty, C., Chambers, D., Ingraffea, J., Faber, H. R., Karplus, P. A. & Bretscher, A. (2004) The EBP50-moesin interaction: structural analysis of a binding site regulated by direct masking on the FERM domain. J. Cell Sci. 117, 1547-1552..

Tong AH, Lesage G, Bader GD, Ding H, Xu H, Xin X, Young J, Berriz GF, Brost RL, Chang M, Chen Y, Cheng X, Chua G, Friesen H, Goldberg DS, Haynes J, Humphries C, He G, Hussein S, Ke L, Krogan N, Li Z, Levinson JN, Lu H, Menard P, Munyana C, Parsons AB, Ryan O, Tonikian R, Roberts T, Sdicu AM, Shapiro J, Sheikh B, Suter B, Wong SL, Zhang LV, Zhu H, Burd CG, Munro S, Sander C, Rine J, Greenblatt J, Peter M, Bretscher A, Bell G, Roth FP, Brown GW, Andrews B, Bussey H, Boone C.  (2004)  Global mapping of the yeast genetic interaction network. Science 303, 808-13

Nawrot, M., West, K., Huang, J., Possin, D. E., Bretscher, A., Crabb, J. W and Saari, J. C. (2004). Cellular retinaldehyde-binding protein interacts with ERM-binding phosphoprotein 50 in retinal pigment epithelium. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 45(2):393-401.

Pruyne, D., Legesse-Miller, A., Gao, L., Dong, Y. & Bretscher, A. (2004) Mechanisms of polarized growth and organelle segregation in yeast. Ann. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 20, 559-591.

Pruyne, D., Gao., L., Bi., E. & Bretscher A. (2004) Stable and dynamic axes of polarity utilize distinct forming isoforms in budding yeast..  Mol. Biol. Cell, 15, 4971-4989.

Hayashi, H., Szászi1, K., Coady-Osberg, N., Furuya, W., Bretscher, A. P., Orlowski, J., & Grinstein, S. (2004). Inhibition and Redistribution of NHE3, the Apical Na+/H+ Exchanger, by Clostridium difficile Toxin B. J. Gen. Physiol. 123, 491-504.

Chambers, D. & Bretscher, A. (2005). Ezrin mutants affecting dimerization and activation. Biochemistry, 44, 3926-3932.

Bretscher, A. (2005) Microtubule tips redirect actin assembly. Dev. Cell 8, 458-459.

Legesse-Miller, A., Zhang S, Santiago-Tirado, F. H. , Van Pelt, C. K, Bretscher, A. (2006). Regulated Phosphorylation of Budding Yeast's Essential Myosin-V Heavy Chain, Myo2p.   Mol. Cell Biol. 17, 1812-1821.

Hanono, A., Garbett, D., Reczek, D., Chambers, D. N. & Bretscher, A. (2006). EPI64 regulates microvillar sub-domains and structure. J. Cell Biol. 175, 803-813.

Li, Q., Nance, M. R., Kulikauskas, R., Nyberg, K., Fehon, R., P., Karplus, P. A., Bretscher, A. & Tesmer, J. J. G. (2006). Self-masking in an intact ERM-merlin protein: an active role for the central a-helical domain. J. Mol. Biol. 365,1446-59

Bruce, B., Khanna, G. , Landberg, G., Jirström, K., Powell, C., Borczuk, A., Keller, E.T., Wojno, K.J., Meltzer, P., Baird, K., McClatchey, A., Bretscher, A., Hewitt, S. M. & Khanna, C. (2007). Expression of the Cytoskeleton Linker Protein Ezrin in Human Cancers. Clinical and Experimental Metastasis 24, 69-78.

Amin, N.M., Hu, K., Pruyne, D., Terzic, D., Bretscher, A., Liu, J. (2007) A Zn-finger/FH2-domain containing protein, FOZI-1, acts redundantly with CeMyoD to specify striated body wall muscle fates in the Caenorhabditis elegans postembryonic mesoderm. Development. 134:19-29.

Ilani, T., Khanna, C., Zhou, M., Veenstra, T.D. & Bretscher, A. (2007) Immune synapse formation requires ZAP-70 recruitment by ezrin and CD43 removal by moesin. J. Cell Biol. 179: 733-746.

Gao, L. & Bretscher, A. (2008) Analysis of unregulated forming activity reveals how yeast can balance F-actin between different microfilament-based organizations. Mol. Biol. Cell 19: 1474-1478.

Ilani, T., Vasiliner-Shamis, G., Bretscher, A. & Dustin, M. L. (2009). T cell antigen receptor signaling and immunological synapse stability require myosin IIA.Nature Immunology 10, 531-539.

Gao, L. and Bretscher, A. (2009) Polarized growth in budding yeast in the absence of a localized formin. Mol. Cell Biol. 20, 2540-2548.

Lalonde, D. & Bretscher, A. (2009) The scaffold protein PDZK1 undergoes a head-to-tail intramolecular association that negatively regulates its interaction with EBP50. Biochemistry 48, 2261-2271.

Bretscher, A. (2009). Epithelial polarity: Dual Lkb1 pathways regulate apical microvilli. Developmental Cell 16, 491-492.

Fehon, R. G., McClatchey, A. I. & Bretscher, A. (2010). Organizing the Cell Cortex: The role of ERM proteins. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 11, 276-287.

Gao, L., Liu, W. & Bretscher, A. (2010). The yeast formin Bnr1p has two localization regions that show spatially and temporally distinct association with septin structures. Mol. Biol. Cell, 21, 1253-1262.

Lalonde, D., Garbett, D. & Bretscher, A. (2010) A regulated complex of the scaffolding proteins PDZK1 and EBP50 with ezrin contribute to microvillar organization. Mol. Cell Biol. 21, 1519-1529.

Garbett, D., Lalonde, D. & Bretscher, A. (2010). The Scaffolding protein EBP50 regulates microvillar assembly in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. J. Cell Biol. 191, 397-413.

Santiago-Tirado, F., Legesse-Miller, A., Schott, D. & Bretscher, A. (2011). PI4P and Rab inputs collaborate in myosin-V-dependent transport of secretory compartments in yeast. Developmental Cell, 20, 47-59.

Lalonde, D. & Bretscher, A. (2011) The UBX Protein SAKS1 negatively regulates Endoplasmic Reticulum-Associated Degradation and p97-dependent degragation. J. Biol. Chem. 286, 4892-4901.

Santiago-Tirado, F. & Bretscher, A. (2011). Membrane-trafficking sorting hubs: cooperation between PI4P and small GTPases at the trans-Golgi Network. Trends in Cell Biology, in press

Click here for Dr. Bretscher's PubMed listing.