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Department of Zoology



After an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham, I joined Dr. John Kilmartin's lab as a Research Assistant in 2004 at the LMB/MRC in Cambridge. Here I learnt the fundamentals of lab work and good scientific practice and after two constructive years I started a PhD with Prof. Jordan Raff at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge. During my PhD I discovered a surprising mechanism of centrosome assembly and showed how this influenced centrosome size and inheritance in neural progenitor cells. In 2010 I completed my PhD and moved with Prof. Raff as a post-doc to the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford. Here, I elucidated the molecular details of centrosome assembly and studied how centrosomes are able to nucleate large numbers of microtubules during mitosis. In 2014 I moved back to Cambridge to the Department of Zoology to set up my own lab studying microtubule nucleation from both centrosomes and from other microtubule organising centres in the cell.  


Our work addresses how microtubule formation is regulated in space and time. Microtubules are dynamic polymers that make up part of the cell's cytoskeleton. They form a spectacular variety of different arrays within cells and the type of array that forms depends on the type of cell and on what that cell needs to do at a particular time. For example, when a cell needs to divide the microtubules are arranged into a mitotic spindle, which functions to separate the duplicated chromosomes. Whereas in non-dividing neurons, microtubules run through axons and dendrites and are required to transport important molecules between the cell body and the neurite terminals. Cells control the type of microtubule array that forms largely by regulating when and where new microtubules form, and they do this using highly conserved multi-protein complexes called gamma-tubulin ring complexes (gamma-TuRCs). Gamma-TuRCs are recruited and anchored to discrete sites within the cell called microtubule organising centres (MTOCs) and here they catalyse the formation of new microtubules. We aim to understand how gamma-TuRCs assemble and how they are recruited to different MTOCs in different cells at different times. To do this we combine powerful genetic manipulation with live cell imaging of fluorescently-tagged proteins in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Our work has important implications for cancer, as gamma-TuRCs have recently been identified as potential anti-cancer targets.


Key publications: 

Re-examining the role of Drosophila Sas-4 in centrosome assembly using two-colour-3D-SIM FRAP. Conduit PT, Wainman A, Novak ZA, Weil TT, Raff JW. (2015). eLife DOI:

Conduit PT and Raff JW. (2015). Different Drosophila cell types exhibit important differences in mitotic centrosome assembly dynamics. Current Biology, 25: pR650-R651.

Conduit PT, Richens JH, Wainman A, Holder J, Vicente CC, Pratt MB, Dix CI, Novak ZA, Dobbie I, Schermelleh L, Raff JW. (2014). A molecular mechanism of mitotic centrosome assembly in Drosophila. eLife doi:10.7554/eLife.03399.

Novak ZA, Conduit PT, Wainman A, Raff JW. (2014). Asterless provides a primary license that allows centrioles to duplicate for the first time. Current Biology 24:1276–82.

Conduit PT, Feng V, Richens JH, Baumbach J, Wainman A, Bakshi SD, Dobbelaere J, Johnson S, Lea SM, Raff JW. (2014). The centrosome specific phosphorylation of Cnn by Polo/Plk1 drives Cnn scaffold assembly and centrosome maturation. Developmental Cell 28: 659-669.

Conduit PT and Raff JW. (2010). Cnn dynamics drive centrosome size asymmetry to ensure daughter centriole retention in Drosophila neuroblasts. Current Biology. 20: 2187-2192.

Conduit PT, Brunk K, Dobbelaere J, Dix CI, Lucas EP, Raff JW. (2010). Centrioles regulate centrosome size by controlling the rate of Cnn incorporation into the PCM. Current Biology. 20: 2178-2186.

Other publications: 

Conduit PT, Wainman A,  Raff JW. (2015). Centrosome function and assembly in animal cells. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, doi:10.1038/nrm4062.

Conduit PT, Hayward D, Wakefield JG (2015). Microinjection techniques for studying centrosome function in Drosophila melanogaster syncytial embryos. Methods Cell Biol. 2015;129:229-49. doi:10.1016/bs.mcb.2015.03.007.

Conduit PT. (2013). The dominant force of Centrobin in centrosome asymmetry. Nature Cell Biology. 15: 235-237.

Li S, Sandercock AM, Conduit PT, Robinson CV, Williams RL, Kilmartin JV. (2006). Structural role of Sfi1p-centrin filaments in budding yeast spindle pole body duplication. Journal of Cell Biology. 173: 867-877.


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