Caspases are cysteine-aspartic acid proteases that were traditionally associated with roles in apoptosis and inflammation. Dr. Gorski’s lab identified a role for the Drosophila effector caspase Dcp-1 in the positive regulation of stress-induced autophagy and current efforts are focused on elucidating the regulation and molecular mechanisms of caspase-mediated autophagy, as well as its evolutionary conservation in mammalian cells.
Another response to cellular stress is the release of extracellular vesicles. Emerging evidence from normal and disease contexts is beginning to reveal a coordinated stress response between extracellular vesicle release and autophagy to help sustain homeostasis. The group is investigating the functional relationships and coordinated regulation between the autophagy pathway and extracellular vesicles.