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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

A. Piekny (2020) Anillin controls the Rho zone. Bioessays. doi: 10.1002/bies.20200055.

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. doi: 10.1021/acsanm.0c00244.

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.

Ozugergin, I. and A. Piekny (2020) Complementary functions for the Ran gradient during division. Small GTPases. 14: 1-11. 

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.

Frenette, P., Haines, E., Loloyan, M., Kinal, M., Pakarian, P. and A. Piekny (2012) An anillin-Ect2 complex stabilizes central spindle microtubules at the cortex during cytokinesis. PLoS one 7: e34888.

Tse, Y.C., Piekny, A. and M. Glotzer (2011) Astral microtubules sequester anillin to induce cortical myosin polarization. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 22: 3165-3175.

Piekny, A. and A.S. Maddox (2010) The myriad roles of anillin during cytokinesis. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. 12: 881-891.

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