Cellular Structural Biology of Cell Migration and the Extracellular Matrix

In our projects ActinID and cryoSPARTAN we are using cellular structural biology approaches to study the structure and function of protein complexes in situ. Specifically, we are interested in the organization and structure of the actin cytoskeleton, the key player enabling cellular movement.
If you want to know more about why and how we do it click here

In multicellular organisms most cells migrate in 3D environments such as the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM has a pivotal role in regulating many intracellular signaling pathways via its biomechanical properties. While we have a thorough understanding of the molecular composition of the ECM, its structural landscape at the molecular level remains uncharted. We develop ion beam milling and cryo-electron tomography workflows to study ECM structures in their natively preserved state.
For more info on our work on the ECM click here

Structural Virology

Describing the protein interactions that form pleomorphic and asymmetric viruses represents a considerable challenge to most structural biology techniques. Obtaining a detailed understanding of these interactions is nevertheless important, considering the number of relevant human pathogens that do not follow strict icosahedral or helical symmetry.
Cryo-electron tomography and subtomogram averaging methods provide structural insights into complex biological environments and are well suited to go beyond structures of perfectly symmetric viruses. Specifically, we use these methods to understand the structural conservation and diversity in retroviral capsid assemblies. We are also integrating multimodal cryo-EM approaches to answer outstanding questions on poxvirus assembly and core architecture.
To learn more about our efforts to visualize the structures of different viruses click here.