Studying the role of septins on cell division using expansion microscopy (BEP)

What and Why

Septins, the least famous member of cell cytoskeleton, are emerging as essential for many cellular activities, including cell division. Cell division is not only one of the most fundamental processes underlying the evolution of life, but also a fascinating process from mechanical perspective, as it underlies major changes to the cell shape and tension. Not surprisingly, the cytoskeleton, with its enormous complexity and different structures that can be assembled, is the executer of these dramatic changes.

Septins are fascinating proteins that can form filaments and higher order structures, such as bundles and rings, using septin heterohexamers or heterooctamers as building blocks. They can also interact with many partners such as the well-known actin and microtubule cytoskeletons, and the cell membrane. Septins have been observed to locate on the contractile ring region and on the midbody during cytokinesis.

The Project

We aim to understand the role of septins in cell divisions, and how they interact with other cytoskeletal components and the membrane during that process. This project is aimed for super resolution optical imaging technique, termed Expansion Microscopy. Using this approach, you will be able to inflate the cells undergoing cell division symmetrically to image the spatial relations of septins and their counterparties at the cell membrane in great detail, using conventional optical microscopy.


You participate in a bachelor study in physics, chemistry, biology or similar. You must be available for at least 3 months. A longer period is possible and preferable.


Daily supervisor: Gerard Castro-Linares ( and Michal Shemesh (
Group leader: Gijsje Koenderink (

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