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April 20th 2019

How do cells move? How does a cell divide? And how can a general cell become a specialised cell? Many of these processes arise due to interactions between signalling proteins, changes in the cell shape and adjustments to the inside of the cell. In the new FOM programme researchers will explore this complex set of interactions.

Prof.dr. Pieter Rein ten Wolde, programme leader: "Investigating such processes is difficult because all of the activities in the cell are closely related to each other. We will therefore use a model system – a sort of very simple cell – and a computer model. Thanks to collaboration with several groups we can combine expertise in the fields of biophysics, biology, biochemistry and modelling".

The knowledge about the relationship between cellular processes and diseases is growing. Not only the dysfunctioning of individual proteins but also problems in the network of interactions between proteins can cause diseases. A growing number of sensitive techniques are available, including micro-arrays, which make it possible to explore these biochemical networks on a large-scale. The discipline is therefore developing rapidly. Ten Wolde: “Most of the research is top-down, by manipulating an existing cell. However, now we know the components we can also adopt a reverse approach, namely simulating a cellular system in the test tube. We often start as simply as possible and then step by step we increase the complexity of the system."

This programme is a collaboration between:
- AMOLF: Prof.dr. P.R. ten Wolde, Prof.dr. M. Dogterom;
- Delft University of Technology: Dr. C. Danelon;
- University of Amsterdam: prof.dr. T.W.J. Gadella.
This Dutch team is working closely with Prof.dr. Philippe Bastiaens from the Max-Planck Institute in Dortmund.