Exploring the effect of myosin on septin-supported actin cortices (MEP)
What and Why
Within the endeavour of creating a synthetic cell, one challenge is to make the cell mechanically stable. The cell membrane is typically very thin and fragile, and therefore deforms easily and can rupture at low strains. To achieve membrane support, we follow the eukaryotic approach: we support the membrane with an underlying elastic fibrous skeleton called the actin cortex. This protein network dictates the shape of eukaryotic cells and is the active machinery involved in cell deformations, such as during cell division.
In this project, you will reconstitute actin cortices on membranes, using different anchoring and nucleating proteins. You will use atomic force microscopy in combination with advanced electron and light microscopy techniques to study the morphology of such cortices at a high spatial resolution. Outside the lab, you will develop analysis tools for quantitative image and data analysis.
Depending on your background, you will develop your skills in protein purification, cell free cytoskeletal reconstitution, and supported lipid mono- and bilayer formation. You will learn how to use AFM, electron microscopy and light microscopy to study the morphology of the cortices. There will also be opportunities to collaborate with other group members depending on your interests and the progress of the project, for example studying the mechanics of the membrane-cytoskeleton complex.
You participate in a Master study in physics, chemistry, biology or similar. You must be available for at least 6 months. A longer period is possible and preferable.