Analysis of protein dynamics in S. cerevisiae and C. elegans

Supervising PI

Anne Spang (website)

Project Description


The temporally and spatially controlled localization of proteins at the plasma is critical for the growth and development of single cellular and multicellular organisms. The balance of secretory and endocytic activities is crucial in determining growth rates, domain establishment and polarity at the plasma membrane. Key regulators of protein and membrane traffic are small GTPases of the ras super family. The activation and inactivation of these small GTPases depend on guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) and GTPase activating proteins (GAPs). The local restriction of these regulatory factors dictates the spatial activation of the GTPases.

In this project, we will determine the functional consequences of activating and inactivating small GTPases of the Arf and Rab families on polarized growth and development. In yeast, we will take advantage of two established light inducible targeting systems to regulate GTPase activity locally through GEFs and GAPs. We will establish GTPase-regulator circuits important for polarized growth in yeast. This knowledge, we will transfer into another highly polarized cell: the C. elegans zygote. We will determine the effect of functionally interfering with the homologous GTPase-regulator circuits on polarity establishment and maintenance from the zygote to the 4-cell stage using RNAi and CRISPR-Cas9 methodology. Finally, we will extend our findings to C. elegans intestinal epithelial cells.


Optogenetics, live cell imaging, molecular biology and biochemical techniques, CRISPR-Cas9, standard yeast and C. elegans techniques.


  1. Ackema KB, Hench J, Böckler S, Wang SC, Sauder U, Mergentaler H, et al. The small GTPase Arf1 modulates mitochondrial morphology and function. EMBO J. 2014 Nov 18;33(22):2659–75.
  2. Ritz AM, Trautwein M, Grassinger F, Spang A. The prion-like domain in the exomer-dependent cargo Pin2 serves as a trans-Golgi retention motif. Cell Rep. 2014 Apr 10;7(1):249–60.
  3. Poteryaev D, Datta S, Ackema K, Zerial M, Spang A. Identification of the switch in early-to-late endosome transition.