Cytoskeletal intermediate filaments - from Self-Assembly to Cell Mechanics


Event details

Date and time 01.05.2017 13:1514:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Sarah Köster, University of Göttingen, Germany
Category Conferences - Seminars
Biological cells are pervaded by a dense biopolymer network of fibrous proteins, collectively termed the cytoskeleton. The exact structures comprising this composite network are majorly important for the mechanical properties of the cells, which in turn support their physiological function. The cytoskeleton consists of three filamentous systems, actin filaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments (IFs) along with a plethora of binding proteins and molecular motors. Among the three filamentous systems, IFs self-assemble in a highly hierarchical process giving rise to a very particular molecular architecture. IFs are expressed in a cell type specific manner and are thus being discussed as strong candidates for the precise definition of the different mechanical properties of different cell types.

Our research focuses on the relation between molecular structure and mechanical properties of filaments and cells. I will present state-of-the art experiments and recent results on the self-assembly of the proteins into filaments and networks and their intriguing mechanical properties. The relevant length scales for these processes range between few nanometers and many micrometers. Therefore, we employ small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), x-ray nano-diffraction, static and dynamic light scattering (SLS/DLS), fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), optical tweezers, and fluorescence microscopy. As some of these methods are inherently slow and thus provide only a low time resolution, we combine the observation techniques with microfluidics to obtain in situ data.
(Review papers, I think those are best suited):
[1]  J. Block, V. Schroeder, P. Pawlzyk, N. Willenbacher, S. Köster, BBA Mol Cell Res 2015, 1853, 3053-64.
[2]  S. Köster, D. Weitz, R. Goldmann, U. Aebi, H. Herrmann, Curr Opin Cell Biol 2015, 32, 82-91
(one recent research paper is just in press, should come out in the next few days):
[3]  J. Block, H. Witt, A. Candelli, E. Petermann, G. Wuite, A. Janshoff, S. Köster Phys. Rev. Lett. 2017, accepted for publication

Bio: Sarah Köster, studied physics at the University of Ulm and performed her PhD work at the University of Ulm, Boston University and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen. She received her PhD from the University of Göttingen in 2006. Her thesis was awarded the Berliner-Ungewitter-Preis of the Göttingen physics faculty as well as the Otto-Hahn-Medaille of the Max-Planck-Society. In 2008, after two years of postdoctoral work at Harvard University with David Weitz, she returned to Göttingen as a junior professor. In 2010 she was awarded the Helene-Lange-Preis of the EWE-Foundation. In 2011 she was promoted to a tenured W2 professor in the faculty of physics of the University of Göttingen, where she leads the research group Nanoscale Imaging of Cellular Dynamics.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Michele Ceriotti & Esther Amstad


  • Michele Ceriotti & Esther Amstad

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