Dr Zita Balklava


School of Life & Health Sciences

Aston University
Aston Triangle
B4 7ET

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

Office hours: 8.00am - 5.00pm

Research Group

Molecular Biomedical Research

Research Centre

Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)  

Zita Balklava 001

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

2009 -        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) 

Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship was awarded November 2008.

Recent publications