Study of the mechanical properties of the cytoskeletal glial fibrillary acidic protein (BEP/MEP)


Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) is a biopolymer from the cytoskeleton, belonging to the intermediate filament family. It has been reported as a marker for glioma and neurodegenerative diseases and has started to get more attention from the scientific community in the recent years.

This project focuses on studying how GFAP architecture affects the mechanical properties of the networks, not only on its own, but when exposed to other neighbouring intermediate filaments, as it happens in the cells. Those can be the different isoforms of GFAP (variations in the head or tail domains of the protein), as well as when in closeness to vimentin. The presence of the different proteins will affect the different mechanical properties: more stress can be withheld i.e., making in the long term a cell more resistant i.e., making a cancer more invasive.

For that, the aim of this project is to study the physical properties of intermediate filaments (Ifs), in particular GFAP and GFAP incombination with other Ifs. That will be done via Differential Dynamic Microscopy (DDM) and rheology.


Irene Istúriz Petitjean ( and Prof. Dr. Gijsje Koenderink (