FOM programme awarded: 2.5 million euro for ‘A single-molecule view on protein aggregation’.

2010 | 28 November

The misfolding and aggregation of proteins has enormous functional and medical relevance. Protein aggregation is implicated in some of the most intractable human diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Despite decades of research, the underlying biophysics remains a mystery. With a team of colleagues from the University of Twente, Leiden University, AMOLF, UvA, and the VUmc, the ambition of this program is to unravel the physical mechanisms that underlie the dynamics of protein nucleation and aggregation. We intend to focus on the earliest steps of aggregation of the human alpha-synuclein protein, implicated in the pathology of Parkinson’s disease. We will span the range from single molecules to cells, and seek to understand what triggers the proteins to aggregate in cells, precisely how these aggregates are formed in solution, and how these aggregates might interact with cell and model membranes to cause disease. This grant gives us the opportunity to address a grand challenge in contemporary biophysics in a concerted effort involving experimental and computational biophysics, biochemistry and molecular genetics.

The programme is led by Prof. Vinod Subramaniam (NBP/University of Twente), and involves the groups of Prof. Gerard Canters, Prof. Thijs Aartsma, and Dr. Martina Huber (all at Leiden University), Prof. Sander Tans (AMOLF/TUDelft), Prof. Peter Bolhuis (University of Amsterdam), Prof. Peter Heutink (VU Medical Center), and Prof. Wim Briels and Dr. Wouter den Otter (University of Twente).