Molecular Organisation of Cell Junctions in Epithelia Tissue

Seminar abstract : Understanding how does functional order emerges from individual components is a major challenge of current biology. It’s particularly fascinating how epithelial cells organize its components in space and time to shape adhesion mesoscale structures such that they keep a robust and functional architecture that enables tissue homeostasis and organ function. We initially revealed that the initiation of tight junctions is triggered by condensation of the protein ZO1 at the cell adhesion sites. Later, we discovered that a biophysical wetting phenomenon orchestrates the assembly of the junctional belt around the apical interface. These results highlight how cells exploit the collective biophysical properties of protein condensates at the membrane interfaces to shape mesoscale structures.

Short biog: I did my PhD in Chemistry between Melbourne and Germany on development of radiopharmaceuticals and nanomaterials for molecular imaging. Later, I shifted to do a postdoc in cell biology and biophysics at the Max Planck for Molecular Cell biology and Genetics in Dresden. During my time at CBG, we discovered that junctions form via condensation and later I show the biophysics of wetting lead the assembly of junctions, work I did between Honigmann, Hyman & Jülicher Labs. Exciting times during the postdoc also allow me to work on lipid imaging, stress granules, small drugs on nuclear condensates, all using super-resolution STED microscopy. I have just opened my lab at the Rosalind Franklin Institute where I will explore the spatio-temporal molecular assembly of cell adhesions during formation and its damages in intestinal diseases. Happy to join the Oxford community.