Cell and Chromosome Biology

What are the universal principles underlying cell structure and function?

To get fundamental insights into how a cell, the basic unit of life, is organized and divides, a highly interactive research community at the Vienna BioCenter uses cutting-edge approaches, including super-resolution microscopy, high-content screening, biochemical reconstitution, and genomics, to functionally dissect the molecular biology of the cell.

Cells are the building blocks of life. Their astounding ability to perform diverse biological functions, such as replicating themselves or migrating to new locations, requires self-organization of macromolecules into higher-order structures like chromosomes, membrane-bound organelles, and phase-separated liquid-like compartments. A complete understanding of how cells are organized and how they function requires knowledge of their life cycle, metabolic processes, signaling pathways, transport mechanisms, and interactions with the environment. This fundamental knowledge also helps reveal how things can go wrong – disrupting cellular processes can lead to many different diseases such as cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Researchers at the Vienna BioCenter are investigating all of these processes, with projects in cell cycle and division, transmembrane and intracellular signal transduction, autophagy (‘self-eating’) and cell death, the cytoskeleton and cell migration, nuclear and genome organization, organelle biogenesis, and DNA damage responses. Chromosome research has traditionally been a strong focus at the Vienna BioCenter, particularly the study of chromosome segregation. Indeed, cohesin was discovered here in the 1990s while Kim Nasmyth was a group leader at the IMP. Today, scientists continue to investigate this fascinating and fundamental cellular process, including how cohesion is established and maintained, how it is released, and how errors leading to chromosome missegregation result in diseases such as cancer. Another aspect of chromosome biology being studied by several groups in various organisms is meiotic chromosome pairing and recombination, defects in which are a major cause of miscarriages and birth defects.

Cell biology research relies heavily on the visualization of cellular processes in living and developing organisms. Therefore, scientists working in this field interact closely with the Advanced Microscopy Facility, which offers both state-of-the-art commercial instruments and custom, purpose-built imaging systems. This includes light-sheet fluorescence microscopy, where bespoke systems are enabling higher spatiotemporal resolution for live cell studies with minimal phototoxicity.

Research Groups "Cell & Chromosome Biology"

Research Group Institute Topic
Baccarini Max Perutz Labs Deciphering the MAPK pathway in vivo
Campbell Max Perutz Labs Mechanisms that ensure chromosome segregation fidelity in mitosis
Dagdas GMI The role of autophagy in plant development and stress tolerance
Dammermann Max Perutz Labs Centriole Assembly and Function
Foisner Max Perutz Labs Lamins in nuclear organization and human disease
Fuchs Max Perutz Labs Stress response in simple epithelia
Gerlich IMBA Assembly and function of the cell division machinery
Haselbach IMP Watching molecular machines in action
Jantsch Max Perutz Labs Meiosis in C. elegans
Keays IMP Neuronal migration and magnetoreception
Klein Max Perutz Labs Chromosome Structure and Meiotic Recombination
Koehler Max Perutz Labs Nuclear Pores - Regulators of Chromatin and Membrane Dynamics
Martens Max Perutz Labs Molecular Mechanisms of Autophagy
Matos Max Perutz Labs Mechanisms of Genome Stability and Haploidisation
Mittelsten Scheid GMI Epigenetic Changes in Plants
Ogris Max Perutz Labs PP2A enzyme biogenesis and monoclonal antibodies
Otsuka Max Perutz Labs Intra-cellular Communication between the ER and the Nucleus
Peters IMP Mitosis and chromosome biology
Saha IMBA Role of macromolecular phase separation in germline cell fate and totipotency
Schloegelhofer Max Perutz Labs Meiotic Recombination
Slade Max Perutz Labs DNA damage response
Tachibana IMBA Chromatin reprogramming in totipotent stem cells
Versteeg Max Perutz Labs Ubiquitin-mediated regulation of immune signaling
Weitzer Max Perutz Labs Somatic Stem Cells of the Heart