The physics of cell division studied through synthetic cells
Cells are the smallest autonomous building blocks of our body. Their shape and mechanics are governed by a delicate force balance between the plasma membrane and the cytoskeleton, an elastic scaffold of stiff protein filaments. The cytoskeleton mechanically stabilizes the thin and fragile lipid bilayer membrane but also actively drives changes in membrane shape by exerting pushing and pulling forces. A paradigmatic example of this mechanical interplay is the process of cell division, which is driven by a contractile ring of actin filaments that constricts the membrane mid-cell. The key structural component is a cross-linked network of actin filaments that is tightly anchored to the plasma membrane and constriction is driven by myosin motor molecules that utilize ATP to slide the actin filaments. Most research till now has focused on the question how force generation by the actin cytoskeleton changes membrane shape.
The aim of this project is to ask the reverse question: how does the membrane geometry determine the assembly and constriction of the actin ring? Models suggest that actomyosin ring formation and furrow ingression sensitively depend on the cell geometry and the balance between cortical tension at the cell equator and the poles. Some models predict that contractile ring initiation furthermore requires cooperation with lipids and proteins that promote membrane curvature. To experimentally test these ideas, you will reconstitute synthetic cells by encapsulating a minimal machinery required for actin ring assembly inside lipid vesicles and use microfluidic devices, optical tweezers, and curvature-inducing proteins to impose a controlled membrane geometry. To measure the dynamic response of the actin and the membrane, you will make extensive use of confocal fluorescence imaging, FCS, FRAP, and single-molecule imaging. This project is part of a large Dutch research initiative (Basyc ) aimed at building an autonomous self-reproducing synthetic cell. Our team’s contribution focuses on the mechanical machinery needed to achieve cell cleavage. Within the team, you will closely collaborate with three PhD students that work on several different aspects of the actin-based cell division machinery.
We offer an inspiring, supportive and collegial environment. The Koenderink lab is an experimental biophysics lab studying the physical principles that underlie the self-organization and dynamics of living cells with quantitative physics-based methods. The work addresses both fundamental biological questions on cell and tissue morphogenesis and physics questions on the ‘active soft matter’ properties of living matter. The Koenderink lab is embedded in the TU Delft Department of Bionanoscience , which focuses on the fundamental understanding of biological processes from molecule to cell. The department features an inspiring, international environment with access to state-of-the art facilities for nanofabrication, imaging, molecular/cell biology, biochemistry, and high-performance computing for image processing. Within the department, we closely collaborate with several other groups on the Basyc project.
Research Assistant, Drug Development And Optimization Platform, Times Higher Education, United Kingdom, 10 days ago
Drug Development and Optimization Platform - Research Assistant National University of Singapore (NUS) is inviting enthusiastic individuals to apply for the position of Research Assistant. Primary...
Postdoctoral Fellow, EMBL, Worldwide, about 3 hours ago
The Petsalaki Group uses data-driven and network-based approaches to understand the principles underpinning context-specific cell signalling. We are an interdisciplinary team using computational ...
Postdoctoral Fellow At The Ulb Center For Diabetes Research (# Of Pos: 2), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium, 27 days ago
One postdoctoral fellow position is available at the ULB Center for Diabetes Research, Brussels, Belgium (https://www.ucdr.be/ ). We are looking for a highly motivated researcher to join the lab o...
Ph D / Post Doc In Biophysics , Technical University of Munich, Germany, about 9 hours ago
03.05.2021, Wissenschaftliches Personal Living cells rely on the ability of the cytoskeleton to continuously form and destroy diverse structures, which is strongly coupled to the adhesion processe...
Research Assistant, Times Higher Education, United Kingdom, 1 day ago
Job Description We are seeking a highly motivated and organized individual to work with Asst. Prof. LIN Zhewang on identification and functional characterization of co-translational proteins under...
Postdoctoral Position – The Role Of The Actin Cytoskeleton In Peripheral Nerve Degeneration, VIB, Belgium, about 4 hours ago
The Jordanova team at the VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology , Belgium, is looking for an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher to work on a project exploring the involvement of the actin ...