Membrane Organization of Cells and Tissues

Biological membranes are fascinating composites of lipids, proteins and sugars. Our aim is to understand how the molecular components self-organize into meso-scale complexes that control processes as adhesion, polarization, signaling / sensing, which underlie morphogenesis of cells and tissues.

To this end, we pursue a mutli-scale approach:

(1) Supra-Molecular-Organization of Membrane Complexes in Cells and Tissues 
We use and develop super-resolution STED microscopy in combination with 3D tissue culture to study how molecules organize into functional meso-scale structures. Currently we are working on the Apical Junction Complex. 

(2) Reconstitution of Membrane Complexes by Molecular Self-Organization in vitro 
We purify key organizing proteins to re-assemble complex structures and functions in controlled in vitro membrane systems. We are particularly interested in collective processes such as phase transitions / separation and active feedback systems.

(3) Control of Morphogenesis in Epithelial Organoids
We aim to apply and test the molecular and mesoscale self-organization principles during the morphogenesis of stem cell derived organoids. We especially focus on the interplay of cell adhesion, cortical mechanics and cell differentiation.

Methodological and technical expertise

  • Super-Resolution Microscopy (STED, SMLM)
  • Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy, Single Molecule Tracking
  • 2D and 3D Tissue Culture of Epithelial and Stem Cells
  • Protein Purification and Biochemistry
  • Reconstitution of Proteins on Model Membranes
  • Genetics (Crispr KI and KO)
  • Micro-Patterning of Surfaces for Control of Cell Adhesion and Polarization