B2: X-ray imaging of ordered actin structures

Lead PI: Tim Salditt

Collaborating PIs: Andreas Janshoff, Stefan Klumpp, Claudia Steinem, Anne Wald

Overarching research question: How does the structure of ordered actomyosin assemblies determine their mechanical properties, and reciprocally, how do mechanical stimuli affect the assembly of ordered structures?

In this project we investigate the formation and structural dynamics of the highly ordered actomyosin structure, responsible for the contractile function of cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells. High contractile forces are enabled by the almost crystalline order of actin and myosin filaments in myofibrils. We study the formation of these structures by advanced X-ray diffraction techniques, both in in vitro model systems and in cardiomyocytes. We want to understand how myofibrils form and develop during maturation, and how this depends on mechanical forces and stimuli. In the doctoral reasearch project, experiments are carried out both in the home laboratory and using highly brilliant synchrotron radiation.

Core field: experimental biophysics

PhD training objectives: X-ray imaging and diffraction; protein biochemistry; cell culture; data analysis (diffraction models, image processing); modeling (self-assembly and statistical assembly models).