Department of Biosciences, University of Durham

RAQ group


South Road
DH13le Durham
United Kingdom

Phone: +441913341331



Roy Quinlan
Phone: +44 1913341331

Involved in

  • WG1 - Biophysics of cell and tissue structure
  • WG2 - Structural analysis of biomolecules involved in mechanobiology

General description research focus

Interest in the cytoskeleton and particularly intermediate filaments in astrocytes, cardiomyocytes and the lens that led to the discovery of the functionally important interaction of the small heat shock protein chaperones with intermediate filaments and its role in mediating the biomechanical properties of cells. In the lens, these proteins are key to its function as an optical element the eye. The strong correlation between structure and function in this tissue provides the platform for current research interests to model lens cell organization in 3 and 4 dimensions and integrating the cytoskeletal and chaperone functions into a scaled model of this tissue.

Real time imaging of the developing eye lens would also be helpful to populate our knowledge base in terms of cell positioning, division planes and other organelle dynamics within the developing lens, but this is more easily achieved using zebrafish. With colleagues (Professor John Girkin, Dr Robert Pal, Dr Boguslaw Obara, Dr Junjie Wu) in Durham University Biophysical Sciences Institute, we are using multidisciplinary approaches to reach this goal so that in future, mouse and zebrafish systems can complement each other. This has led also to important research collaborations with Dr Kislon Voitchovsky and Dr Margarita Staykova (Physics), Dr John Sanderson and Dr Jackie Mosely (Chemistry) on lens membranes, their lipids and associated proteins, so that we connect our studies on the mechanistic details of lens function and cataractogenesis with our modelling of the lens. This includes how intermediate filaments contribute to the organisation and regulation of water channels in lens membranes

Imaging technologies available

  • Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy (LSM / CLSM)
  • Spinning Disc Confocal Microscopy (SDCM)
  • Deconvolution Widefield Microscopy
  • Single Plane Illumination Microscopy
  • Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Microscopy (TIRF)
  • Photo Activated Localization Microscopy (PALM)
  • Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy (STORM)
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Correlative Light Electron Microscopy (CLEM)
  • Live cell imaging

Equipment available

JEOL 1200 TEM;Leica freeze substitution; Zeiss airyscan/Light sheet; OMX system

Expertise support provided to users

Protein purification; recombinant protein expression; antibody labelling

Research topics directly investigated in research group

Aquaporin 0 structure and function
Cataract and amyloidosis
Inherited human diseases caused by mutant cytoskeletal proteins, particularly cataract, cardiomyopathy and neuropathies
Membrane domains and their association with protein chaperones and intermediate filaments
Motor neurone disease
Protein chaperones
The cytoskeleton
The eye lens and the ageing process

Access rules research groups

Contact Roy Quinlan


News archive