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Alisa Piekny, PhD

Associate Professor, Biology
co-Director, Centre for Microscopy at Concordia
Concordia University Research Chair in Cancer Cell Biology, Biology

Alisa Piekny, PhD
David Ward
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 3428


PhD (University of Calgary)
Post-Doc (IMP, Vienna, Austria; and University of Chicago)

Research interests

The aim of my research is to gain a stronger understanding of how the cytoskeleton is regulated during cell division, migration and polarity. I am interested in how microtubules and actomyosin control these events during tissue morphogenesis, and how they are hi-jacked in cancer cells. This includes an in depth molecular analysis of anillin, a highly conserved protein that is required for cytokinesis and crosslinks key components of the cell. I use both the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and cultured mammalian cells as model systems. I also collaborate with other groups to develop delivery and diagnostic tools for cancer cells, and to develop anti-cancer drugs.

Teaching activities

Cell Physiology
Advanced Cell Biology

Research activities


NSERC, FRQ-NT, NIH, Aligo Innovation

Selected publications

Ozugergin, I. and A. Piekny (2022) Diversity is the spice of life: an overview of how cytokinesis regulation varies with cell type. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology (accepted)

Husser, M.C., Ozugergin, I., Law, C., Resta, T., Martin, V.J.J. and A. Piekny (2022) Cytokinetic diversity in mammalian cells is revealed by characterization o endogenous anillin, Ect2 and RhoA. Open Biology (accepted)

Zaroubi, L., Ozugergin, I., Mastronardi, K., Imfeld, A., Gelinas, Y., Piekny, A. and B. Findlay (2022) The ubiquitous terpene geosmin is a warning chemical. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 88: e0009322.

Ozugergin, I., Mastronardi, K., Law, C. and A. Piekny (2022) Diverse mechanisms regulate contractile ring assembly for cytokinesis in the two-cell Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. Journal of Cell Science 135: 1-16.

Kashani, A.S., Larocque, K., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2022) Gold nano-bio-interaction to modulate mechanobiological responses for cancer therapy applications. ACS Applied Bio Materials 5: 3741-3752.

Jaunky, D.B., Larocque, K., Husser, M.C., Liu, J.T., Forgione, P. and A. Piekny (2021) Characterization of a recently synthesized microtubule-targeting compound that disrupts mitotic spindle poles in human cells. Scientific Reports 11: 1-18.

Husser, M.C., Skaik, N., Martin, V.J.J. and A. Piekny (2021) CRISPR-Cas9 tools to study gene function in cytokinesis. Journal of Cell Science 134: 1-12.

Koh, S., Pham, N.P. and A. Piekny (2021) Seeing is believing: tools to study the role of GTPases during cytokinesis. Small GTPases 18: 1-14.

Liu, J.T., Larocque, K., Jaunky, D.B., Chen, F., Sirouspour, M., Mckibbon, K., Taylor, S., Shafeii, A., Campbell, D., Braga, H., Piekny, A. and P. Forgione (2021) Design, structure-activity relationship study and biological evaluation of thin[3,2-c]isoquinoline scaffold as a potential anti-cancer agent. Bioorganics and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 52: 1-19.

Ozugergin, I. and A. Piekny (2021) Complementary functions for the Ran gradient during division. Small GTPases 12: 177-187.

Grimbert, S., Mastronardi, K., Richard, V., Christensen, R., Law, C., Zardoui, K., Fay, D. and A. Piekny (2021) Multi-tissue patterning drives anterior morphogenesis of the C. elegans embryo. Developmental Biology 471: 49-64.

A. Piekny (2020) Anillin controls the Rho zone. Bioessays. 42: e2000193.

Kashani, A.S., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2020). Using intracellular plasmonics to characterize nano-morphology in human cells. Microsystems and Nanoengineering. 6: 1-14.

Kashani, A.S., Badilescu, S., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2020) Differing affinities of gold nanostars and nanospheres toward HeLa and HepG2 cells: implications for cancer therapy. ACS Applied Nano Materials. 3: 4114-4126.

Beaudet, D., Pham, N., Skaik, N. and A. Piekny (2020) Importin binding mediates the intramolecular regulation of anillin during cytokinesis. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 31: 1124-1139.

Macairan, J., Jaunky, D.B., Piekny, A. and R. Naccache (2019) Intracellular ratiometric temperature sensing using fluorescent carbon dots. Nanoscale Advances 1: 105-113.

Kashani, A.S., Badilescu, S., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2019) Perspective - Bio-nanointeraction in treatment and management of cancer. Journal of the Electrochemical Society. 166: B3007-B3011.

Hong, S.H., Larocque, K., Jaunky, D.B., Piekny, A. and J. Oh (2018) Dual disassembly and biological evaluation of enzyme/oxidation-responsive polyester-based nanoparticulates for tumor-targeted delivery. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces. 172: 608-617.

Kashani, A.S., Kuruvinashetti, K., Beaudet, D., Badilescu, S., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2018) Enhanced internalization of Indian Ayurvedic Swarna Bhasma (gold nanopowder) for effective interaction with human cells. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. 18: 6791-6798.

Kuruvinashetti, K., Kashani, A.S., Badilescu, S., Beaudet, D., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2018) Intracellular localized surface plasmonic sensing for subcellular diagnosis. Plasmonics. 13: 1639-1648.

Beaudet, D., Akhshi, T.K., Phillipp, J., Law, C. and A. Piekny (2017) Active Ran regulates anillin function during cytokinesis. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 28: 3517-3531.

Beaudet, D., Badilescu, S., Kuruvinashetti, K., Kashani, A.S., Jaunky, D., Ouellette, S., Piekny, A. and M. Packirisamy (2017) Comparative study on the entry of incinerated ancient gold particles (Swarna Bhasma) and chemically synthesized gold nanoparticles. Scientific Reports. 7: 10678.

Wernike, D., Chen, Y., Mastronardi, K., Makil, N. and A. Piekny (2016) Mechanical forces drive neuroblast morphogenesis and are required for epidermal closure. Developmental Biology. 412: 261-277.

van Oostende Triplet, C., Jaramillo-Garcia, M., Haji Bik, H., Beaudet, D. and A. Piekny (2014) Anillin interacts with microtubules and is part of the astral pathway that defines cortical domains. Journal of Cell Science. 127: 3699-3710.

Akhshi, T.K., Wernike, D. and A. Piekny (2014) Microtubules and actin crosstalk in cell migration and division. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 71: 1-23.

Wernike, D., van Oostende Triplet, C. and A. Piekny (2014) Visualizing neuroblast cytokinesis during C. elegans embryogenesis. JOVE. 85: 1-13.

Fotopoulos, N., Wernike, D., Chen, Y., Makil, N. and A. Piekny (2013) Caenorhabditis elegans anillin (ani-1) regulates neuroblast cytokinesis and epidermal morphogenesis during embryonic development. Developmental Biology. 383: 61-74.

Zanin, E., Desai, A., Poser, I., Toyoda, Y., Andree, C., Moebius, C., Bickle, M., Conradt, B., Piekny, A. and K. Oegema (2013) A conserved RhoGAP limits M phase contractility and coordinates with astral microtubules to confine RhoA during cytokinesis. Developmental Cell. 26: 496-510.

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