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Centrioles are cytoplasmic structures whose distinguishing feature is an outer wall composed of a nine-fold symmetric array of stabilized microtubules. Centrioles perform two important functions in eukaryotic cells: 1) they form centrosomes that organize the microtubule cytoskeleton and contribute to cell division, and 2) they form cilia, cellular projections that perform critical sensory and motile functions. Reflecting their multiple roles in development and tissue homeostasis, centrosome and cilia abnormalities have been linked to cancer as well as developmental and adult disorders including ciliopathies, dwarfism and microcephaly. Work in my lab seeks to understand the fundamental and conserved molecular mechanisms underlying centriole assembly and their function in centrosome and cilium biogenesis.
In our lab we are using a combination of biochemical, cell biological and genetic approaches in the nematode C. elegans and the fruit fly D. melanogaster to investigate the fundamental and conserved molecular mechanisms underlying centriole assembly and function. In previous work we have used the C. elegans early embryo to define the molecular requirements for centriole assembly. The six-protein molecular pathway we identified has since been found to be conserved from ciliates to vertebrates, and is thought to form the core of the centriole assembly machinery in all eukaryotes. Current research builds on this foundation, seeking to answer three main questions: 1) How do centrioles assemble, and what are the molecular mechanisms that underlie their remarkable stability; 2) how do centrioles recruit pericentriolar material to form centrosomes and what is the molecular nature of this material; and 3) how do centrioles form cilia, focusing on the early events in ciliogenesis.
1997 B.A. University of Cambridge, UK
2003 Ph.D. University of Edinburgh, UK
2003-2010 Post-doctoral fellow at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego, CA
Since 2010 Junior Group Leader at Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Vienna, Austria
Since 2015 Associate Professor at University of Vienna, Austria
Centrioles are dispensable for mitotic centrosome maintenance. Acentriolar centrosomes are stable for the duration of mitosis, though uniquely sensitive to pulling forces exerted by the cell cortex. Centriole ablation (A) and mock ablation (B) performed on C. elegans embryos co-expressing GFP:TAC-1 (PCM), mCherry:SPD-2 (centrioles) and mCherry:Histone (chromosomes). Cabral, Laos et al., unpublished.
Centrioles initiate cilia assembly but are dispensable for maturation and maintenance in C. elegans. Centrioles degenerate early in ciliogenesis and are therefore not directly involved in later steps in this process. 3D-reconstruction model of incipient cilium just prior to centriole degeneration. Serwas et al., J Cell Biol 2015.
Isotropic incorporation of SPD-5 underlies centrosome assembly in C. elegans.
Laos, Triin; Cabral, Gabriela; Dammermann, Alexander
The ciliary transition zone functions in cell adhesion but is dispensable for axoneme assembly in C. elegans.
Schouteden, Clementine; Serwas, Daniel; Palfy, Mate; Dammermann, Alexander
Ultrastructural analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans cilia.
Serwas, Daniel; Dammermann, Alexander
The Group Dammermann participates in in the special Doctoral Program 'Chromosome Dynamics' reviewed and funded by the Austrian Research Fund FWF.
The Group Dammermann is an associate member of the Special Research Area (SFB) "Chromosome Dynamics - Unraveling the function of chromosomal domains" funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
Project title: "Molecular Analysis of Centriole Assembly and Function"