Main Content

  • Cell shape and cell migration of immune cells

    Foto: S. Bogdan

    Using Drosophila blood cells (macrophages) as an excellent in vivo cell culture model system we have performed genome-wide mutagenesis and RNAi-based gene knockdown approaches to systematically identify central actin regulators and membrane receptors required for cell shape, wound-induced directional cell migration and phagocytosis of macrophages in the physiological environment of the living fly.

  • Morphogenetic movements shaping tissues and organs

    Directional cell movements during tissue morphogenesis require the coordinated interplay between membrane receptors and the actin cytoskeleton. We have identified the WAVE regulatory complex (WRC) as a major force-generating machine that drives global tissue rotation during Drosophila egg elongation. Using High-resolution SIM and 4D-Spinning-Disc imaging techniques we discovered a new type of planar-polarized whip-like actin protrusions that might act not only in force generation but also in cell synchronization. The similar morphology of the protrusions observed in rotating Drosophila egg chambers and MCF10A acini suggests that the molecular mechanisms driving epithelial tissue rotation might be evolutionarily conserved. These experiments will establish the evolutionary conservation of the mechanisms regulation tissue rotation and will identify the key components in higher vertebrates.

  • Invasive cell growth and cell migration

    Foto: S. Bogdan

    Forward and reverse genetic screens have led to the identification of numerous genes that orchestrate the specification, delamination and the guidance of Drosophilaborder cell migration, an excellent genetic model of collective cell migration and cell invasion.Border cells undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and form intense membrane protrusions, delaminate from the follicle epithelium and migrate as a cohort in between the nurse cells. New genetic approaches and high-resolution live cell imaging microscopy techniques allow important insights into molecular principles of conserved regulatory networks that act on almost every step in border cell delamination, cell adhesion, cell motility and invasive cell dynamics.

  • Cellular dynamics in stem all-niche communications (Dr. K. Rust)

    To remain functional, tissues have to maintain homeostasis. They have to coordinate proliferation, differentiation and death of all cells in the tissue simultaneously. We study aspects of tissue homeostasis using the Drosophila follicle cell lineage as a model:
    -By employing live imaging techniques we investigate how cellular dynamics of niche and stem cells influence stem cell behavior.

    -Using single cell RNA-sequencing we explore the signaling pathway network that regulates cell fate decisions in the early follicle cell lineage.

    -We are interested in understanding how niche cells acquire the ability to replace stem cells during stress conditions.

    Rust K and Nystul TG. (2020) ‘Signal transduction in the early Drosophila follicle stem cell lineage’, Current Opinion in Insect Science, 37, pp. 39–48. doi:10.15252/embj.201798659

    Rust K, Byrnes LE, Shengyang K, Park JS, Sneddon JB, Tward AD, Nystul TG. (2020) ‘A Single-Cell Atlas and Lineage Analysis of the Adult Drosophila Ovary’, Nature Communications. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19361-0

    Rust K*, Tiwari MD, Mishra VK, Grawe A, Wodarz A*. (2018) ‘Myc and the Tip60 chromatin remodeling complex control neuroblast maintenance and polarity in Drosophila’, The EMBO journal. doi: 10.15252/embj.201798659.
    *co-corresponding authors.


    Dr. Katja Rust
    Molecular Cellphysiology
    Emil-Mannkopff-Str. 2
    35037 Marburg
    phone: 0049-6421-28-26759