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Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces - Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als

The Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als focuses on inter­dis­cip­lin­ary research in the field of bio­lo­gical and bio­mi­metic mater­i­als. The emphasis is on under­stand­ing how the mech­an­ical or other phys­ical prop­er­ties are gov­erned by struc­ture and com­pos­i­tion and how they adopt to envir­on­men­tal con­di­tions.

PhD Pro­ject Mes­sage in a ves­icle: Inter­cel­lu­lar com­mu­nic­a­tion through extra­cel­lu­lar ves­icles at MPI of Col­loids and Inter­faces, Pots­dam

IMPRS on Multiscale Biosys­tems

Work­ing field:

Bio­phys­ics, phys­ics, chem­istry or engin­eer­ing


MSc in bio­phys­ics, phys­ics, chem­istry or engin­eer­ing; interest in phys­ics of bio­lo­gical sys­tems; interest in inter­dis­cip­lin­ary work; basic know­ledge of mem­branes and micro­scopy exper­i­ence will be advant­age­ous.

What we of­fer:

Pro­ject descrip­tion: Cells con­stantly release extra­cel­lu­lar ves­icles (EVs) of dif­fer­ent ori­gin and size (50 nm to 5 µm) that con­tain lip­ids, pro­teins, and vari­ous nuc­leic acid spe­cies of the source cell. EVs are attract­ing con­sid­er­able interest in the sci­entific com­munity due to their role in inter­cel­lu­lar com­mu­nic­a­tion. Can­cer cells have been shown to exploit EVs in tumor growth as well as pre­par­ing the pre-meta­static niche; neur­onal sur­vival and myelin form­a­tion have been pro­posed to involve EVs as well. Thus, EVs are increas­ingly employed as thera­peutic agents in can­cer, immune mod­u­la­tion and tis­sue regen­er­a­tion. However, much remains unknown about the ori­gin, secre­tion and fate of these ves­icles.
Here, we intend to employ a bot­tom-up syn­thetic bio­logy approach and build a bio­mi­metic sys­tem allow­ing the study of EV gen­er­a­tion and pro­gres­sion in an extra­cel­lu­lar envir­on­ment. For this, we will employ cell-sized giant unilamel­lar ves­icles (GUVs, 10-100 µm) embed­ded in hydro­gels mim­ick­ing the extra­cel­lu­lar mat­rix, such as algin­ate, agarose or Mat­ri­gel, see Fig­ure. Mech­an­ical stress, pH and osmotic shocks will be used as trig­gers for GUV deform­a­tion and EV-like secre­tion. The dif­fu­sion of EV-like extruded lipo­somes (50-100 nm) in the mat­rix will be mon­itored with state-of-the-art tech­niques includ­ing con­focal and super-res­ol­u­tion (STED) micro­scopy. Such bio­mi­metic sys­tem will be com­pared with the secre­tion and dif­fu­sion of EVs of highly meta­static and weakly meta­static breast can­cer cells.

How to ap­ply:

Online applic­a­tion through IMPRS web­site