Two members of “Cells in Motion” receive a major award from the European Research Council. CiM spokesperson Prof Lydia Sorokin will use the several million-euros grant to mimic components of the blood-brain barrier in 3D models to study factors that affect its permeability to immune cells. Particle physicist Prof Christian Weinheimer works on measurements of hypothetically predicted particles that might constitute dark matter.
Fruit flies with a new variant of a “clock gene” are spreading northwards. A team led by neurobiologists Prof Ralf Stanewsky and Dr Angélique Lamaze at the University has now found an explanation for this phenomenon. The study was published in the journal “Nature Communications”
Most living organisms have an internal clock which controls the sleep-wake rhythm. This rhythm lasts approximately one day (“circadian”), is regulated by means of various “clock genes” and coordination with factors such as light and temperature. A research team led by neurobiologist Prof. Ralf Stanewsky has demonstrated in fruit flies that a certain ion transport protein (“KCC”) plays a role in regulating circadian rhythms by means of light.
Biologist Dr Ivan Bedzhov, a research group leader at the MPI in Münster and a member of several research networks at the University of Münster, receives funding from the European Research Council amounting to two million euros for five years. He will use the funding to study how mammalian embryos preserve their viability and developmental potential for extended periods of time in a state of suspended animation.
Biochemist Prof. Andrea Rentmeister has been awarded a Proof of Concept Grant, worth 150,000 euros, from the European Research Council. Together with business chemist Prof. Jens Leker, she is now working out how to make a marketable product out of a method she has developed to activate mRNA. This method enables scientists to use light to control biochemical processes inside living cells.
A team of researchers led by biochemist Prof. Daniel Kümmel from the University of Münster, together with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, has clarified the structure of the protein complex “Mon1/Ccz1” which is an important regulator of cellular degradation processes. This complex belongs to a family of regulators which are involved in a range of cellular processes and for which no structural information previously existed.
Do you recognize what's shining on our Christmas ball this year? Every year it is adorned with an image from our research that illuminates the inner workings of cells and organisms. Using imaging techniques, scientists make structures and processes that are normally hidden from the human eye visible and investigate how cells behave within organisms. We hope you have lots of fun reading about the image and making your decorations. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2022!
The Collaborative Research Centre 1348 “Dynamic Cellular Interfaces: Formation and Function” at Münster University, which has been running since 2018, will receive approximately 10 million euros for a second funding period of four years by the German Research Foundation. The network investigates molecular mechanisms at contact points between cells that regulate cell differentiation as well as the development and function of tissues.
Using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model, an interdisciplinary research team headed by biologist Dr Sebastian Rumpf from the University of Münster looked into whether energy is needed for the developmental degradation of nerve connections which takes place in the flies during metamorphosis.
A team of researchers led by biologist Prof Christian Klämbt from the University of Münster has shown that, in addition to the already known blood-brain barrier, there is a second barrier in the brain of fruit flies. Here glial cells, too, ensure a spatial separation of different functional compartments. The study was published in “Nature Communications”.
A research team from the Universities of Göttingen and Münster, headed by biophysicist Prof Timo Betz, has investigated the mechanical properties of cells during mitosis using optical tweezers. The scientists revealed that during mitosis, biological cells soften their interior, become more fluid inside, and activity within the cell is reduced, while the shell stiffens and rounds. The study was published in “Nature Physics”.
A research team led by biochemist Prof Andrea Rentmeister and nuclear medicine specialist Prof Michael Schäfers has, for the first time, utilised so-called SNAP-tag technology to radioactively label cells in living organisms. The method opens up the prospect of examining cells with different imaging techniques and at different temporal stages. The study was published in “Chemical Communications”.
A research team headed by neurologist Dr Gerd Meyer zu Hörste has systematically studied which white blood cells populate the tissue surrounding the brain. They discovered that both B cells and their progenitors reside and develop in the outer layer of the meninges. The cells may have special immune system functions there and play a role in inflammatory brain diseases. The study was published in “Nature Neuroscience”.
The University of Münster receives funding for a “Medical Scientists Kolleg” in “Dynamics of Inflammatory Reactions”. The programme will support postdocs and strengthen collaboration between basic research in the natural sciences and application in patients. For this purpose, the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation will provide one million euros for four years.
A research team headed by chemist Prof Bart Jan Ravoo and biochemist Prof Volker Gerke has designed nanocontainers made of sugar and protein components. These containers are taken up by cells through natural processes and can thereby transport substances that normally cannot penetrate the cell membrane – such as drugs or labelled substances for the investigation of cell functions – into cells. The study was published in “Advanced Science”.
A research team headed by biomedical engineer Dr Britta Trappmann has developed a cell culture system in which, for the first time, a functional blood vessel system is able to grow within a framework made of synthetic material. The team investigates which material properties promote individual parameters of vessel formation – a step towards the futuristic vision of implantable artificial tissues. The study was published in “Nature Communications”.
Scientists working with Prof Jan Rossaint and Prof Alexander Zarbock, two anesthesiologists and intensive care specialists at the University of Münster, have found how platelets interacting with white blood cells contribute to the resolution of bacterial lung inflammation in mice. The results may help in the search for therapies to specifically regulate inflammation. The study was published in the "Journal of Experimental Medicine".
A team headed by developmental biologist Prof Dr Stefan Luschnig from the University of Münster has discovered that during egg development in fruit flies, intercellular gaps open between epithelial cells in a controlled way at the points where three cells meet. This process allows yolk proteins to be transported into the egg cell. The study has been published in the journal “Developmental Cell”.
In an interview, mathematician Prof Benedikt Wirth gives insights into mathematical concepts that are fundamental for medical imaging and describes specific research projects in which he works together with colleagues from the fields of biology, medicine, physics and other disciplines. In an online talk on March 24, he will then be presenting (in German) mathematical findings which were necessary for the development of technologies.
Researchers around cell biologist Prof Dr Carsten Grashoff from the University of Münster and at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have developed a method for determining the arrangement and density of individual proteins in cells. In this way, they were able to prove the existence of an adhesion complex consisting of three proteins.
Two initiatives on topics in the research area of the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre have received funding from the Rectorate of the University of Münster: Microbiologist Prof Dr Ulrich Dobrindt and cell biologist Prof Dr Ursula Rescher are addressing questions of host-microbe interaction. Mathematician Prof Dr Angela Stevens and cell biologist Prof Dr Erez Raz want to conceptually deepen the interplay between experimental biology and mathematics.
Biologists and mathematicians at the Universities of Münster and Erlangen-Nürnberg investigated how primordial germ cells behave in zebrafish embryos when not influenced by a guidance cue and developed software that merges 3D microscopy images of multiple organisms. This made it possible to recognise patterns in the cell distribution and thus to highlight tissues that influence cell migration. The study was published in “Science Advances”.
Working together with an international team, researchers around nanophysicist Prof Dr Wolfram Pernice at Münster University found that photonic processors, with which data is processed by means of light, can process information very much more rapidly and in parallel than electronic chips. The results published in "Nature" could be applied to support the evaluation of large quantities of data produced in biomedical imaging.
Biochemists around Prof Dr Andrea Rentmeister at Münster University have developed a new strategy for controlling the biological functions of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) by means of light and therefore provide a tool to investigate processes which take place in cells. The results have been published in the journal "Angewandte Chemie".
Researchers around Prof Dr Carsten Grashoff at the University of Münster have discovered how the muscle-specific adhesion molecule metavinculin modulates mechanical force transduction on the molecular level. The research results have just been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Scientists around anesthesiologist Prof Alexander Zarbock at the University of Münster have investigated the role of an integrin kinase in molecular processes of leukocyte adhesion and extravasation into tissue. The study published in the journal “Blood” was awarded the title “Paper of the Month” by the Faculty of Medicine.
Every year our glittery “Christmas ball” gives insight into the inner workings of cells and organisms. Using imaging techniques, scientists make processes that are normally hidden from the human eye visible and investigate how cells behave within organisms. Guess what’s shining on our Christmas ball this year? We wish you lots of fun with our little bit of “Science on the Christmas tree”!
The new Collaborative Research Center "inSight" at Münster University receives funding from the German Research Foundation amounting to approximately ten million euros. The researchers aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of how the body regulates inflammation in different organs and, to this end, develop a specific imaging methodology that brings together information from single cells to entire organisms.
The German Research Foundation has approved a new funding period for the Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio 128 at the Universities of Münster, Mainz and München. In order to develop new therapeutic concepts, researchers in this project are working on unravelling the changes in the immune system that underlie the disease, the role of the blood-brain barrier and the effects of the immune system's attack on the central nervous system.
A team of researchers headed by Münster University physiologist Prof. Wolfgang Linke has shown that oxidative stress, in combination with the extension of the heart walls, triggers a change in cardiac stiffness. A key role is played by the giant protein titin. This newly discovered mechanism is relevant, e.g., in cases of an acute heart attack. The results have been published in the journal “PNAS”.
Researchers at Münster University headed by biologist Prof Christian Klämbt have discovered that glial cells – one of the main components of the brain –not only control the speed of nerve conduction, but also influence the precision of signal transduction in the brain. The research results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Organs in animals and in humans have one thing in common: they are bounded by so-called epithelial cells. Researchers at the University of Münster headed by Cells in Motion Professor Stefan Luschnig have found out how two proteins called Anakonda and M6 interact in epithelial cells in fruit flies in order to produce a functioning barrier at corner points between three of those cells.
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the University of Münster have developed light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. For this purpose, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses. The new method could be relevant for applications such as high resolution microsopy. The study has been published in “Nature Communications”.
Chemists have for a long time been interested in efficiently constructing polyenes – not least in order to be able to use them for future biomedical applications. However, such designs are currently neither simple nor inexpensive. Scientists at Münster University headed by Cells in Motion Professor Ryan Gilmour have now found a bio-inspired solution to the problem. The study has been published in “Science”.
The Clinical Research Unit "Male Germ Cells" at Münster University will receive further 5.7 million euros in funding for three years by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The network has been investigating the causes of male infertility since 2017.
The development of the lymphatic vasculature is crucially dependent on one specific protein – the growth factor VEGF-C. Using the zebrafish model, researchers now gained new insights into how and at which spots the individual protagonists of the VEGF-C signalling pathway need to interact with each other in the embryo. The study has been published in "Nature Communications".
The Collaborative Research Centre "Breaking Barriers" will continue to receive funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for four years. The network deals with inflammatory reactions at biological interfaces such as the skin or surfaces of lungs, intestines or blood vessels. Newly gained insights shall now be implemented in methods relating to new diagnostic or therapeutic approaches.
Laser light that cannot be seen, and sounds that cannot be heard: this combination produces something that is all the more visible – images from inside the body. Photoacoustics is the name of this method, whose purpose is to acoustically record the sounds of molecules. During her PhD thesis, biologist Alexa Hasenbach investigated inflammatory processes.
Physicians, physicists and chemists at Münster University have developed novel iron oxide nanoparticles that can serve as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The exceptional aspect: They can be specifically distinguished from naturally occurring iron, thus enabling targeted tracking of immune cells in mice, and providing novel insight into iron metabolism. The study was awarded the title “Paper of the Month” by the Faculty of Medicine.
Although systemic inflammations such as sepsis are not uncommon, there are still major gaps in the understanding of disease progression and the development of treatment options. In order to close some of these gaps, the German Research Foundation is funding a new clinical research group at Münster University with around four million euros over three years.
How do immune cells behave in the body? What happens during immunotherapy? To answer these questions, the European Union brings together leading experts from research and the pharmaceutical industry. The Europe-wide research project "Immune-Image", which is funded with 30 million euros over five years and in which scientists from Münster University are involved, started on 1 October.
Physicists and chemists at Münster University have succeeded in developing a technique which is able to detect the typically invisible properties of nano-structured fields in the focus of a lens. This can help to establish nano-structured light landscapes as a tool for material machining, optical tweezers, or high-resolution imaging.
Biologist Dr. Lena Goedecke investigates how nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other and regulate anxiety reactions. In a guest article, she gives insights into her doctoral thesis, which she did at the graduate school of the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have discovered that curvatures of cell membranes trigger a self-organising system. As a result, cells can move in the same direction over a longer distance, forming search patterns. The study has been published in the journal “Nature Physics”.
Dynamic plays a central role in the research of the three Clusters of Excellence at the University of Münster. Prof. Lydia Sorokin, spokesperson of "Cells in Motion", as well as the representatives of the other two Clusters of Excellence explain how they understand and use "dynamics" in their research.
For the first time, chemists at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have successfully developed a catalytic method to formally add elemental fluorine across simple, feedstock chemicals known as alkenes with control over the 3D structure. The study has been published in the journal “Angewandte Chemie”.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence show that microtubules, which are tubular filaments that form part of the cytoskeleton, generate mechanical forces und contribute to collective cell behaviour during tissue morphogenesis. The study has been published in “Nature Cell Biology”.
Proteins are produced in the cell in a process known as “translation”. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence show how nerve cells regulate the production of specific proteins during the development of the nervous system. The study has been published in the journal “Cell Reports”.
Cells produce signalling molecules, the Chemokines, which can control the behaviour of other cells. For this purpose they bind to a protein, the chemokine receptor. Each receptor can trigger different responses. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have discovered a mechanism behind this.
Internal award: Researchers headed by CiM Prof. Roland Wedlich-Söldner have won the "Paper of the Month" awarded by the Faculty of Medicine at Münster University. The study “Lateral plasma membrane compartmentalization links protein function and turnover” has been published in July in Embo Journal.
Biologist Dr. Guillermo Luxán investigates in the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence what roles the molecular signals in the coronary vasculature play in cardiovascular disease. To do so, he analyses thin tissue sections under the microscope. In this guest contribution, he gives an insight into his daily life in the laboratory.
When an organism develops, non-specific connections between nerve cells degenerate. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have now discovered that the spatial organization of a nerve cell influences the degeneration of its cell processes. The study has been published in “Development”.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have decoded a mechanism found at the beginning of almost every inflammatory response. Their study provides a new approach to develop novel treatment options for many inflammatory disorders with many fewer side effects compared to current drugs.
In an interdisciplinary collaboration, researchers at the University of Münster have developed a method of visualizing an important component of the cell membrane in living cells. Therefore, they synthesized a family of new substances. The study has been published in “Cell Chemical Biology”.
Phd student Sargon Groß-Thebing investigates in a research group at the Cell-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence how the cells’ environment affects their migration. As a biologist he works closely with mathematicians. In a guest contribution, he explains his research in a way that everyone can understand.
Adults have fewer neuronal connections than infants because during development, neurons degenerate the non-specific connections. Biologist Dr. Svende Hermann investigates a similar mechanism in the fruit fly. In a guest contribution, she explains her research in a way that everyone can understand.
Immunologists and imaging specialists at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have jointly developed a method enabling them to better evaluate and study the activity of inflammatory cells in mice. The study has been published in the “Theranostics” journal.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have developed a new method enabling them to locate important modifications to messenger RNA. This is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between biochemists and molecular biologists. It has been published in “Angewandte Chemie”.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have developed a new method for visualizing the heartbeat of living fruit-fly pupae and automatically recording the pulse frequency. The study is the result of interdisciplinary cooperation between computer scientists and biologists.
Glutamate is known as an flavour enhancer. But without the body’s own glutamate, nerve cells cannot transmit any signals. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have shown how glutamate gets into nerve cells to the right places, describing the key role played by chloride.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have gained new insights into the mechanisms behind regenerative processes. In flatworms and zebrafish, even small wounds can initiate complete regeneration of heads and bones. The study has been published in “Nature Communications”.
If new blood vessels sprout from an existing network of vessels, their endothelial cells migrate in order to rearrange themselves and form contacts with other cells. CiM researchers show which mechanisms take place in the process. The study has been published in “Nature Communications”.
During the development of an organism, individual cells are directed to perform specific tasks within the body of the adult organism. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence show now that the function of a certain protein is responsible for the development of sperm and egg cells.
In order to be able to move, some cells form protrusions in the form of blebs. How do these blebs form? Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have discovered that folds in the cell membrane play a decisive role. The study has been published in the journal “Developmental Cell”.
At the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence there are lots of scientists doing work on and with zebrafish. These fish are perfect for research work because they grow outside the mother’s body and are transparent in the first five days of their life. What the scientists study in the tiny fish embryos is, for example, how bones, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels develop.
Prof. Ralf Stanewsky, a group leader at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence, speaks with the University’s newspaper „wissen|leben“ about the research on the circadian clock. In December, the nobel prize for medicine will be awarded for insights into this topic. (Interview in German)
Interdisciplinary research: At the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence, ten new projects are receiving funding worth a total of around one million euros. Two team leaders from different disciplines work together on each project and contribute their creative ideas to it.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have developed a new method for producing digital 3D reconstructions of blood and lymphatic vessels from tissue samples and then creating images of them for analysis. The study has been published in the “JCI Insight” journal.
During angiogenesis, new blood vessels are formed from existing ones. Research teams at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have shown that the Notch signalling pathway influences the sprouting of new blood vessels and the formation of arteries. Two studies have appeared in the latest issue of “Nature Cell Biology”.
During development, some of the connections between nerve cells disappear. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have discovered a physiological process that plays an important role in this. The study has been published in the current issue of “Embo Journal”.
What role does the correct size of endothelial cells play in the development of blood vessels? Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have been studying this and have identified a gene which enlarges endothelial cells and can lead to diseases. The study has been published in “Nature Cell Biology”.
“March for Science”: On April 22, scientists and citizens around the world will demonstrate for the vital role of science. CiM Prof. Stefan Luschnig knows that knowledge does not emerge overnight. He tells how he discovered a protein – years and years of systematic research work and discussions with colleagues.
When during development does the 3D organisation of the genom in the nucleus arise? A team of researchers around Dr. Juanma Vaquerizas, a group leader at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence, and Clemens Hug, a CiM-IMPRS graduate student, have found new answers to this question. The study has been published in the journal "Cell".
In stem cell transplantation, new stem cells are transferred to the recipient’s bloodstream and find their own way to the bone marrow. A research team headed by the CiM group leaders Prof. Ralf Adams and Prof. Dietmar Vestweber identified the blood flow conditions under which blood stem cells migrate from the vessels and can seek a niche in the bone marrow.
Using an optical method, researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have investigated the mechanical features of cells in living zebrafish embryos and manipulated, for the first time, several components in the cells simultaneously. The study appears in the Journal of Biophotonics.
Which molecular mechanisms are at work when, in the case of inflammation, immune cells migrate from the blood vessel into the tissue? Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have gained new insights into this question. The study has been published in the journal “Cell Reports”.
How can processes in the body that are normally hidden from the human eye, such as inflammation or disease, be made visible? To do this, scientists at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence use a broad range of imaging technologies and work on developing innovative imaging strategies.
If cells are under stress, for example in the case of injuries, they react to the stress and reorganize their cytoskeleton. This has been demonstrated by Prof. Roland Wedlich-Söldner and his team at the “Cells in Motion” Cluster of Excellence. Their study has been published in the journal “eLife”.
CiM group leader Prof. Wiebke Herzog is looking into the question of how cells in the blood vessels find their way to the right place in the tissue and thus make growth possible. She has now received a Heisenberg fellowship for her work from the German Research Foundation.
Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have succeeded in visualizing, for the first time, ongoing inflammation in the brain in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. The study has been published in the prestigious journal "Science Translational Medicine".
The scientists at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence go beyond the boundaries of their own specialised fields and address scientific questions using different disciplines. The enthusiasm for this interdisciplinary team work is evident at all career levels. Seven researchers report on their experiences.
Researchers of the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have succeeded in marking messenger RNA in living cells using click chemistry. A new study of CiM Professor Andrea Rentmeister and her team has been published in the specialist journal “Angewandte Chemie”.
CiM-scientists have found that three factors control progenitor cell positioning in zebrafish embryos
Chemical cues, physical barriers and cell adhesion control progenitor cell positioning. This is the result of a study by cell biologists Azadeh Paksa and Prof. Erez Raz, who worked with an international team of scientists from Israel, France and the USA. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and Münster University have discovered how to increase blood-forming stem cells
Blood vessels play a decisive role in the growth of bone tissue and in blood formation, or haematopoiesis. The blood vessels form so-called vascular niches which ensure that the blood-forming stem cells are preserved. Researchers have now found out how they can enhance the function of vascular stem cell niches in bone marrow and, as a result, increase the number of stem cells.
“Cells in Motion“ funds twelve new interdisciplinary research projects
CiM is providing 1.1 million euros of funding for no fewer than twelve new so-called flexible funds projects. What is special about the projects is that the project partners unite laboratories and clinics from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Medicine. Objects of research are sperm, nano-capsules and high-performance scanners.
Researchers analyse potential of an approach to treating local infections
Bacterial infections can have serious consequences – for example, when they colonize an artificial heart valve. There is especially problematic when the bacteria are resistant to several antibiotics. Researchers are looking for new methods of treatment as well as for ways to find centres of infection in the body, for example by means of special sugar molecules. Chemists, physicists, biologists and physicians were all involved in the study.
Scientists from Münster developed a new method to indicate acute lack of oxygen in cells
Without oxygen, cells cannot survive. Until now, scientists could not observe the effect that a reduced oxygen supply can have on individual cells. This was technically not feasible before. Scientists from Münster have now developed a reporter, which allows them to see an acute lack of oxygen of cells using light microscopy.
Biophysicists measure for the first time what happens when red blood cells “wriggle”
For the first time, and using physical methods, scientists from Münster, Paris and Jülich have demonstrated how red blood cells move. There had been real fights between academics over the question of whether these cells are moved by external forces or whether they actively “wriggle”. CiM Junior Research Group Leader Dr. Timo Betz and an international team have now proven that both opinions are correct. The study was published in “Nature Physics”.
Research team from Münster develops innovative catalytic chemistry process
Doctoral student Jan Metternich and his disstertation supervisor have now succeeded in turning to their advantage a chemical reaction which takes place in the eye and enables us to see light and dark. This process could be used to create special variants (isomers) of important carbon compounds which need a lot of energy to be produced by other means.
It does not always need to be the most expensive high tech product to optimize medical technology. A scientist from a research group in the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence used the Xbox technology for an experiment. With the help of this affordable technology Mirco Heß shows scientists a way to better understand clinical images of the inside from the outside.
Just recently the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) obtained a new device for 'photoacoustic imaging'. Prof. Michael Schäfers from the team of CiM coordinators explains in an interview with Christina Heimken why this prototype is especially important.