In addition to the core groups, the Bijvoet Center is complemented by several research groups in the Department of Biology and at the Utrecht University Medical Centre:
The primary goal of prof. dr. Casper Hoogenraad is to understand how intracellular protein trafficking underlies neuronal development and function. This work is significant because neurons are dependent upon very precise localization of proteins to support their ability to send and receive information. Neuronal cells represent a unique model for addressing fundamental questions in molecular and cellular biology. The size, shape and specialized functions of neurons permit analyses of neuronal migration, axon and dendrite outgrowth, and synapse formation and function. By understanding the basic cellular mechanisms and development of individual neurons, we can better understand how the nervous system develops and functions in an entire animal. We particularly focus on the areas of microtubule cytoskeleton, synaptic cargo trafficking and synaptic plasticity. Visit his group website for more information.
The group of prof. dr. Anna Akhmanova studies cytoskeletal organisation and trafficking processes, which contribute to cell polarisation, differentiation, vertebrate development and human disease. We are interested in understanding, at a systems level, in how different aspects of cell architecture are coordinated. The main focus of our studies is the microtubule cytoskeleton. Our research relies on combining high-resolution live cell imaging and quantitative analysis of cytoskeletal dynamics, measurement of protein dynamics using advanced microscopic assays, in vitro reconstitution of dynamic cytoskeleton-based processes and different methods of identification of protein-protein interactions (in vitro binding studies, pull-down assays, yeast two-hybrid screens and mass spectrometry-based protein identification). In addition to cultured cells, we employ mouse knockout technologies and couple mouse genetic modification (such as GFP knock-in technology) to live tissue imaging. In collaboration with mathematicians we are working on development of automated analysis and modelling of cytoskeletal dynamics and vesicle transport. Visit her group website for more information.
Dr. Madelon Maurice focuses on the mechanisms of Wnt signaling in stem cells, development and cancer. The WNT/b-catenin signaling cascade is essential for proper organismal development and is frequently misregulated in cancer. A major research theme in the Maurice group is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which cells interpret WNT signals received at their cell surface and how dysregulation of these events by mutations leads to cancer. By uncovering molecular details of how the subcellular localization, complex formation and activity of WNT pathway proteins direct cellular decisions we aim to provide novel clues to modulate WNT-mediated cellular responses. Visit her group website for more information.
Dr. Holger Rehmann is interested in the structural basis of molecular regulation mechanisms in cellular signalling and in the selectivity of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions. One focus is on the second messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). cAMP activates protein kinase A, some ion channels and Epac1 and Epac2 by binding to highly homolog cyclic nucleotide binding (CNB) domains. Activation of Epac2 augments glucose induced insulin secretion in pancreatic b-cells. Pharmacological activation of Epac2 may therefore be a treatment option for diabetes. Visit his group website for more information.