<b>Dr Brett Collins</b><br>
Group Leader, Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine Division<br><p>
P: +61 7 3346 2043<br>
E: b.collins@imb.uq.edu.au<p>
- Alzheimer's disease<br>
- Parkinson's disease<br>
- inflammation<br>
- cancer
Dr Brett Collins
Group Leader, Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine Division

P: +61 7 3346 2043
E: b.collins@imb.uq.edu.au

- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- inflammation
- cancer

Membrane trafficking at atomic resolution

The body has tens of trillions of cells, and each of these cells contains tens of thousands of different tiny machines called proteins. When these proteins are not working as they should, the result is often a disease such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or inflammation. We are investigating how these proteins work together so we can understand how they allow our cells to function correctly, and what we might do to fix them when things go wrong.

Our research investigates several related families of proteins with important roles in controlling cellular membrane trafficking—the process of how material moves into and out of the cell, or is shared between different membrane-bound organelles. We have a particular emphasis on a key sub-cellular structure called the endosome and combine different approaches to understand the function of endosome-associated proteins and to determine how their dysfunction contributes to disease, right down to the atomic level.

Many endosomal proteins control the formation of cellular membrane structures, which are selective regions of the endosome that package and transport ‘cargo’ for trafficking, which is essential for normal cellular function. Of particular interest to our laboratory is the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which when broken down, forms amyloid peptides that are believed to be a major cause of Alzheimer’s disease, and cell adhesion receptors which are targets for anti-inflammatory therapies.

During the past 12 months we have discovered how a protein family called SNX-FERM molecules interact with a host of different receptors, including the APP receptor central to Alzheimer’s, and the P-selectin receptor required for inflammatory cell adhesion to the blood vessel wall. We have also investigated the function of proteins that are mutated in Parkinson’s disease, and we are working with other IMB researchers to explore the structures of protein molecules involved in cancer, lipodystrophy and muscular dystrophy.

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Research training opportunities

Please see IMB's postgraduate website for more information. 

Key publications

View more publications by Associate Professor Collins via Pubmed or via UQ Reseachers.

Norwood, S.J., Shaw, D.J., Cowieson, N.P., Owen, D.J., Teasdale, R.D., and Collins, B.M. (2010). Assembly and solution structure of the core retromer protein complex. Traffic 12: 56-71.

Malintan, N.T., Nguyen, T.H., Han, L., Latham, C.F., Osborne, S.L., Wen, P.J., Joo, L.S., Sugita, S., Collins, B.M., and Meunier, F.A. (2009). Abrogating Munc18-1-SNARE interaction has limited impact on exocytosis in PC12 cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 284: 21637-21646.

Collins, B.M., Norwood, S.J., Kerr, M.C., Mahony, D., Seaman, M.N.J., Teasdale, R.D., and Owen, D.J. (2008). Structure of VPS26B and mapping of its interaction with the Retromer protein complex. Traffic 9: 336-379.

Miller, S.E., Collins, B.M., McCoy, A.J., Robinson, M.S., and Owen, D.J. (2007). A SNARE-clathrin adaptor interaction reveals a novel mode of cargo recognition for clathrin-coated vesicle transport. Nature 450: 570-574.

Edeling, M.A., Mishra, S.K., Keyel, P.A., Steinhauser, A.L., Collins, B.M., Roth, R., Hauser, J.E., Owen, D.J., and Traub, L.M. (2006). Molecular switches involving the AP-2 β2 appendage regulate endocytic cargo selection and clathrin coat assembly. Developmental Cell 10: 329-342. 

Group members 

Mr Thomas Clairfeuille
Research higher degree student
+61 7 334 62334
+61 7 334 62338
Dr Caroline Mas
Research staff
+61 7 334 62334
+61 7 334 62338
Associate Professor Brett Collins
Group leader
+61 7 334 62043
+61 7 334 62334
Dr Suzanne Norwood
Research staff
+61 7 334 62040
+61 7 334 62334
Dr Oleksiy Kovtun
Research staff
+61 7 334 62334
+61 7 334 62338