Membrane Tension Acts Through PLD2 and mTORC2 to Limit Actin Network Assembly During Neutrophil Migration
PLoS Biology 2016
Enabling technology for a host of experimental methods
At EMBL, many groups incorporate different areas of Physics and Engineering into their research, such as biophysics, optics, spectroscopy, imaging, robotics and micro engineering.
These disciplines provide enabling technology for many biological applications such as studies on the cytoskeleton and cell mechanics, structural biology, microscopy, single cell/single molecule assays and high-throughput screening.
EMBL offers a unique opportunity to be involved in highly interdisciplinary projects in the life sciences, such as:
Mechanobiology at the cell surface
The Diz-Muñoz group uses atomic force microscopy and live cell imaging to characterise and modify mechanical properties of cells and tissues. We also aim to develop non-contact techniques to measure and control such properties.
This will allow us to pursue a comprehensive understanding of the specific contribution of different force inputs (e.g. adhesion, membrane tension, contractility, stiffness) for cell polarization. Moreover, this will provide an avenue to assess how these inputs affect signaling and set a framework to theoretically describe the complex reality of cell migration.
PLoS Biology 2016
Trends Cell Biol 2013
vol. 23 (2)
PLoS Biology 2010
vol. 8 (11)
Robotics and process development for MX and Cryo-EM
Our team develops instruments and methods for X-ray scattering experiments within the EMBL/ESRF Structural Biology group and contributes to the development of the EMBL@PETRA-III beamlines in Hamburg.
Our core activity is to develop High precision diffractometers and automated sample environments for MX and SAXS beamlines. Recent example is a sample changer based on a 6 axis industrial robot and patented EdgeDewar (Picture). This system called FlexED8 holds up to 252 miniSpine samples holders in 7 pucks maintained in an ice free environment. The Flex technology is being adapted to equip the ESRF MX beamlines and coupled to our CrystalDirect harvester developed in collaboration with the Grenoble HTX lab.
Our technical expertise in high precision mechanics, cryogenics, optics, electronics and software, associated with the scientific input provided by the Synchrotron Crystallography Team ensures the success of our instruments. Most of them are transferred to industry and commercialised worldwide with the support of EMBLEM, the commercial and technology transfer arm of EMBL.
J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 2010
*247* 012009 *Joint first authorship
Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2006
Oct;62(Pt 10):1251-9. Epub 2006Sep 19 PubMed
Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr 1999
Oct;55 ( Pt 10):1765-70 PubMed
Functional dynamics of nuclear structure during the cell cycle
Engineering and physics are essential in two areas of our work.
EMBO J. 2009
Biophys J. 2006
Synchrotron Instrumentation for structural biology
Research carried out at the EMBL Hamburg Unit utilizes the extremely brilliant Synchrotron radiation X-ray intensity produced by particle accelerators at DESY for structural investigations in biology. Experiments are carried out in Small angle solution scattering (SAXS) and X-ray crystallography (PX).
Each of these methods has specific instrumentation needs and our groups design, construct, build and commission the appropriate equipment. Our activities include mechanical engineering, vacuum technology, X-ray optics, data acquisition and control electronics and software. Because of the wide spectrum of skills and competences required our group members include physicists, mechanical, electronic and software engineers as well as skilled technicians in these fields.
EMBL is building and will operate three beamlines on one of the world leading synchrotron radiation sources, PETRA III. In this context major challenges and opportunities in the field of beamline instrumentation, sample handling, control electronics and software have to be mastered.
Proceedings of PCaPAC08 2008
Journal of Applied Crystallography 40 2007
AIP Conference Proceedings 705 2004
Statistical Computing and Mathematical Modeling
Progress in biology is driven by technology. High throughput sequencing and microscopy require sophisticated statistical and computational operations in order to exploit their potential. To understand (and, eventually, manipulate) biological systems, all available data about them needs to be integrated into computable maps and mathematical models. Ideas and techniques from physics, mathematics, statistics, computer science and engineering are the crucial drivers for our research.
107(21):9546-9551 (11 citations) DOI
Nature Methods 2011
454(7203):479-485 (76 citations)
The Synchrotron Crystallography team works in close collaboration with the Structural Biology Group of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF in the design, construction and operation of macromolecular crystallography (MX) and biological small angle X-ray scattering (bioSAXS) beamlines.
In addition, we are responsible for the management of the CRG beamline BM14 at the ESRF, which is operated in partnership with the Indian government and ESRF. We also participate in the development of instruments, software and novel methodologies for sample handling and data collection strategies, which is carried out in close collaboration with the Synchrotron Instrumentation team.
Acta Cryst. 2011
A67 (in press)
J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 2010
*247* 012009 *Joint first authorship
J. Synchrotron Rad. 2009
Automated microfluidic devices
The Merten Group develops novel instrumentation for large-scale screens in biology and chemistry. Besides designing and manufacturing novel microfluidic chips for the cultivation of cells and multicellular organisms, we develop novel modules for the fusion, splitting and sorting of aqueous microdroplets. Furthermore, we focus on automation and the integration of different readout modules based on spectroscopy and imaging. We have access to a fully equipped clean room, use CAD and CFD software, develop novel LabVIEW programs and build new hardware (e.g. electronically controllable microvalves, microheaters/coolers, etc.).
In general, the work in our group is highly interdisciplinary, including optics, engineering and programming. The overall goal is the development of cutting-edge technologies that might even have future commercial applications in industry (we are collaborating with several life science companies).
Lab Chip 2015
Lab Chip 2010
May 21;10(10):1302-7. Epub 2010 Mar 3
Chem Commun (Camb) 2010
Apr 7;46(13):2209-11. Epub 2010 Feb 23
Chemistry and Biology 2008
(Research Highlight in Nature Methods 5(7): 580-581. 2008.)
Advanced optical techniques for deep tissue microscopy
The Prevedel group develops new optical approaches and techniques to non-invasively image dynamic cellular processes in living tissue. To advance the frontiers of deep tissue microscopy we integrate concepts from diverse physical fields, such as wavefront engineering, photo-acoustics and computational imaging.
At the same time, we engineer innovative optical and mechanical hardware solutions for our microscopes to adapt them to particular samples and imaging conditions. In order to interpret our recordings, we also develop custom software to automate the extraction of relevant parameters from our data.
Biomed Opt Express 2015
6:353-368. doi: 10.1364/BOE.6.000353 Europe PMC
Nat Methods 2014
11:727-U161. doi: 10.1038/NMETH.2964 Europe PMC
Nat Methods 2013
10:1013-1020. doi: 10.1038/NMETH.2637 Europe PMC
In order to investigate biological questions that were previously inaccessible because of the limited resolution of light microscopes, we are developing novel superresolution microscopy tools. The design and implementation of advanced microscopes is crucially based on physics and engineering such as optics, mechanical and electrical engineering, image analysis and software development.
Currently we are developing the following tools:
ACS Chem Neurosci. 2013
Apr 22 Europe PMC
Nat Methods 2012
Jun;9(6):582-4. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1991. Epub 2012 Apr 29 Europe PMC
Nano Lett. 2011
Sep 14;11(9):4008-11. Epub 2011 Aug 18 Europe PMC