Light-controlled motor activity in living cells

Cargos are actively transported by a set of molecular motors in a cell. For the first time, researchers in Adam Hendricks’ lab were able to use light to deactivate specific motor molecules and thus dissect their contribution to transport. We developed a rather general model to describe the antagonistic and stochastic dynamics of motor molecules transporting a cargo. Our mathematical description was critical to rationalize the experimental findings and in support of the idea that overall directionality can be controlled by motor activity.

Optogenetic control of kinesins -1, -2, -3 and dynein reveals their specific roles in vesicular transport

A model of active non-markovian oscillations describes the non-linear dynamics of hair cells in the inner ear

In this collaboration between the Rockefeller University in New York, the ICTP in Trieste and the EMBL in Heidelberg, we investigated the spontaneous oscillations of a hair cell’s hair bundle. These oscillations are key to the remarkable ability of our ears to sense sounds. A special mode of oscillation is a bistable behavior. In this study, we applied stochastic physics, machine-learning and the rather new framework of stochastic thermodynamics to quantitatively characterize these fascinating oscillations. 

Modeling Active Non-Markovian Oscillations

Self-assembly of pericentriolar material in cells

Here we used computer simulations with cytosim to rationalize the different self-assembled organizations observed in a set of experiments in the Akhmanova lab. By manipulating specific molecules, we could show that specific components of the pericentriolar material (PCM) together with the activity of molecular motors can form compact structures that organize the microtubule (MT) network.

Self-assembly of pericentriolar material in interphase cells lacking centrioles