Scientist (f/m) / PhD position Subject: Dynamics and functions of membrane-bound organelles during mitosis

Mitosis is fundamental for all life. Decades of research have yielded comprehensive insight into how chromosomes, microtubules and centrosomes are remodeled to ensure the faithful segregation of genetic material during mitotic cell division. In addition to the correct genetic information, the forming daughter cells also need a full complement of membrane-bound organelles for their viability. Furthermore, it has recently emerged that spindle assembly and chromosome segregation depend on organelles and organelle-associated proteins. Thus, during mitosis, membrane-bound organelles need to be restructured and repositioned in highly specific ways to ensure successful cell division. However, the mechanisms of mitotic organelle remodeling have so far largely remained elusive. We previously identified new candidate organelle remodelers, among them REEP3 and REEP4, which control the distribution of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) during mitosis in a microtubule-dependent manner (Schlaitz et al., Dev Cell 2013). REEP3/4 function is also critical for proper nuclear envelope morphology, fidelity of chromosome segregation, and correct cytokinesis, confirming the notion that correct organelle architecture is essential for cell division.

Thesis project: This project will initially build on our current work to elucidate mechanisms of cell-cycle regulation and of microtubule-association of REEP4. Further, we will investigate if and how the ER organizes other organelles in mitosis and study how organelles affect spindle assembly and function. This research at the interface of cell cycle and organelle biology is aimed at uncovering unappreciated mitotic pathways to thus enable a more comprehensive understanding of cell division. Please refer to the lab website for further information: References: Schlaitz AL. Microtubules as key coordinators of nuclear envelope and endoplasmic reticulum dynamics during mitosis. Bioessays, 2014. Schlaitz AL, Thompson J, Wong CC, Yates JR and Heald R. REEP3/4 ensure endoplasmic reticulum clearance from metaphase chromatin and proper nuclear envelope architecture. Developmental Cell, 2013.

Methods that will be used: We use a wide range of cell biological methods including fixed and live cell fluorescence microscopy coupled with quantitative image analysis, biochemical assays and molecular biology methods. The main biological model in the lab are mammalian tissue culture cells. Specific questions may be addressed in embryos of Caenorhabiditis elegans or Drosophila melanogaster.

Cooperation partners: Within the framework of this project you will have the opportunity to work on a new project with close mentoring by a junior group leader (Dr. Anne Schlaitz) but still be able to take advantage of the resources and knowledge of a well-established group (of Professor Schiebel). We collaborate with the group of Dr. Eija Jokitalo (University of Helsinki) for high resolution electron microscopy analysis of ER morphology in mitosis and with Professor Sylvia Erhardt to investigate mitotic ER functions in the D. melanogaster embryo.

Personal qualifications: Applicants should hold a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, Life Sciences, Biochemistry or a related field, need to have a solid background in molecular cell biology and a keen interest to acquire and apply image analysis skills. An enthusiastic student with a passion to understand new players in mitosis and who enjoys working in a collaborative and international environment will be an ideal addition to our newly established group.


Deadline: 15. Jun 2017


Contact details: Schiebel, Elmar