Multiscale Biophysics of Microtubule Dynamics

The cell is a highly organized and sophisticated structure. It is still poorly understood how the assembly and dynamic organization of the cellular skeleton is governed by molecular principles. The TubeX project investigates these processes at the scale of the entire cell.

The cell is the functional unit of life, where genetic information, physiological signals and nutrients are processed and translated into biological functions to sustain life of the organism. This is permitted only because the cell is a highly organized and sophisticated structure. 

Highly dynamical systems

A number of protein-based filament systems provide the structural and organizational elements underlying cellular architecture. Remarkably, these filament systems are highly dynamical, allowing for a constant spatial reorganization of the cell in response to internal and external signals and constraints. However, the molecular principles governing the assembly and dynamic organization of this cellular skeleton at the scale of the entire cell are still poorly understood. 

Yeast as a model system

The goal of the TubeX project is to investigate how the interplay of cellular factors and regulatory mechanisms coordinates events to establish and modulate the architecture of the cell. These events take place at the local scale of single filaments and filament-ends (nanometer scale) as well as at larger scales (micrometers). The project combines microscopy, computer-based image and data analysis methods, genetics, structure biology and in silico modeling. The studies will be carried out using yeast as a model system, taking advantage of the similarities between the cellular skeleton of these cells and that of most other eukaryotes, including mammals.

Principal Investigator Prof. Yves Barral, Institute of Biochemistry, ETH Zurich
Involved Institutions ETH Zurich, Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)
Number of Research Groups 4
Project Duration Aug. 2013 – Jul. 2017
Approved Funds CHF 2 million

Updated June 2013


Prof. Dr. Yves Barral
Institute of Biochemistry
ETH Zurich
Schafmattstr. 18
CH - 8093 Zurich
phone +41 44 632 06 78