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BioSoft Colloquium: Controlling the physics of cellular organization

Moritz Kreysing

Group Leader for Biophotonics and Selforganization, MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden

14.01.2021 11:00 Uhr
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Imagine light microscopy became interactive like a computer game. Rather than observing the miracles of cell biology hands tied, we’d be in control of the spatial dynamics and transformations that govern cellular organization and embryogenesis. We would understand how the cellular constituents feel like, how their material properties change under drug treatments, and how re-arrangements of chromatin impact cell identity. We were to provoke medically relevant phenotypes for research without changing cellular biochemistry, and we would assist early human development in reproduction clinics far beyond todays capabilities.

Theoretical Physics

Towards this end, my lab pioneered the optical control of cytoplasmic motion, which we refer to as Focused-Light-Induced-Cytoplasmic-Streaming (FLUCS). Using FLUCS, we successfully gained interactive control of central developmental programs such as body axis formation in the C. elegans embryo. For example, our research established that cytoplasmic flows localize PAR proteins. This polarization process can be accelerated, spatially modulated, and even fully reversed via FLUCS leading to conclusive phenotypes downstream.

Similarly, on the supra-molecular level, we recently succeeded to control phase-separation in space and time. As a non-invasive method, FLUCS furthermore enables to measure material properties, even through cell walls, while circumventing conceptual and technical problems of classic methods. Such rheological measurements can inform about the metabolic state of cells and permit to dissect functional material properties of organelles with respect to the underlying biochemical pathways and/or drug treatment.

Recently, we found that FLUCS can successfully be applied also inside the cell nucleus. This finding motivates us to refine FLUCS for sub-diffraction micro-manipulations. These will enable the induction of medically relevant phenotypes for cancer and developmental research. Furthermore, the non-invasive re-positioning of chromosomes will serve as a possible basis to assist earliest human development after in-vitro fertilization, such as to help the correct segregation of chromosomes to avoid human aneuploidies and developmental defects.


Dr. Dmitry Fedosov
Telefon: +49 2461 61-2972
Fax: +49 2461 61-3180