Amyloids in confinement


Fluorescent micrograph of actin filaments confined in phospholipid enclosed emulsion droplets (water in dodecane). Actin filaments are fluorescently labelled using TRITC-phalloidin

In neurodegenerative diseases the self assembly of proteins into fibrils and of fibrils into mesoscopic aggregates does not take place in a large volume. Amyloid self assembles in spaces of sub cellular dimensions which makes the average test tube a bad model system. Additionally the aggregation does not take place in simple solutions. In brain cells membrane surfaces or other proteins may interact with the amyloidogenic proteins or amyloid fibrils. The influence of all these factors makes it difficult to understand the biophysics of amyloid aggregation in vivo. In this project we mimic aspects of the complex environment of the cell and follow amyloid fibril self assembly in (membrane enclosed) compartments of cellular dimensions using micro patterning, optical microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.

PhD student: Himanshu Chaudhary
Project leader: Mireille Claessens