Each healthy dividing cell goes through two main phases in its life cycle. DNA is replicated in interphase, and then, in the mitotic phase, the cell segregates that DNA between the two daughter cells and it effectively divides. Failure to properly coordinate cell division can disrupt embryonic development, tissue homeostasis, and it can lead to devastating diseases such as cancer. Essential parts of the cell cycle control system have been investigated. Biochemical oscillations result from complex interactions between regulators, and they can drive the cell cycle forward. Moreover, bio-polymers, such as microtubules and actin, can self-organize. Among other things, this leads to a contractile actin-myosin ring that helps splitting a cell in two. However, little is known about the temporal and spatial coordination of these different important processes combined.
In this project we investigate how intracellular waves of critical biochemical mitotic regulators and cortical waves of actin polymerization interact and function collectively. We characterize how such wave patterns with different spatial and temporal scales affects global cell cycle control, and how it can control cell shape. Our model predictions will be confronted with experiments in early frog embryos.
The student will pursue a joint PhD degree between the Gelens lab at KU Leuven and the Goryachev lab at Univ. of Edinburgh. KU Leuven will be the main institution where the student will work 3 years, and two research visits of 6 months are foreseen at the Goryachev lab in Edinburgh. The student will interact synergistically with experimentalists, theorists, and engineers.
The position is available from October 2022, and applications will be considered until the position is filled.
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