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“Liquid-liquid phase separation in biology” now out in Annual Reviews

Everything you ever wanted to know about our current understanding of cytoplasmic organization by phase separation, from the physics behind it to the consequences for disease, in one comprehensive review:

Hyman AA, Weber CA, Jülicher F. Liquid-liquid phase separation in biology. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2014 Oct 11;30:39-58.

Congratulations to Tony, Frank Jülicher, and Christoph Weber (a postdoc in Frank’s lab)!

Impact of water in a water-surface

Image credit: Marlon Felippe, Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations to Avinash Patel and Hyun Kate Lee on our latest publication in Cell, linking liquid-to-solid phase transition in cells to neurodegenerative disease. Check out the paper and video abstract!

Congratulations to Avinash, Kate, and colleagues for their recent publication in Cell! This work, a close collaboration between our lab and Simon Alberti’s lab, focuses on a protein called FUS, which is implicated in ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). By using in vitro and in vivo studies, they show that FUS normally forms liquid compartments. However, when these compartments are “aged” in vitro, they convert into solid aggregates, and this conversion is accelerated by mutations derived from patients with ALS. Importantly, they propose that these aberrant liquid-to-solid phase transitions may be at the heart of many neurodegenerative diseases.

A Liquid-to-Solid Phase Transition of the ALS Protein FUS Accelerated by Disease Mutation
Patel A, Lee HO, Jawerth L, Maharana S, Jahnel M, Hein MY, Stoynov S, Mahamid J, Saha S, Franzmann TM, Pozniakovski A, Poser I, Maghelli N, Royer LA, Weigert M, Myers EW, Grill S, Drechsel D, Hyman AA, Alberti S. Cell, 27 August 2015.

Read the MPI-CBG Press Release, and watch our Cell PaperFlick video abstract!

New publications: “Suppression of Ostwald ripening in active emulsions”, plus methods for in vitro PCM assembly

New publications out from our lab this summer! First, if you want to learn how to assemble and analyze PCM-like structures in vitro (as Jeff Woodruff did in our recent Science paper), then check out Jeff’s publication in Methods of Cell Biology (Woodruff JB and Hyman AA, 2015) [PDF].

Next, learn how “active emulsions” (much like liquid compartments inside of cells) can be stabilized by reading David Zwicker’s publication in Physical Review E (Zwicker D, Hyman AA, Jülicher F, 2015).

Muddy teambuilding

Check out these photos of 3 of our postdocs during the “Tough Mudder” obstacle course competition last weekend in Hermannsburg! Jeff, Avinash, and Carsten were on a team full of MPI members that valiantly climbed high walls, swam through icy mud baths, fought their way through a field of electric wires, and more. A little crazy, a lot of mud, and a ton of team spirit. Way to go, guys and gals. (all photos by Olli Wueseke.)

Jeff's teammates help him up the halfpipe

Jeff’s teammates help him up the halfpipe

Jeff and Carsten on the monkey bars

Jeff and Carsten on the monkey bars

Jeff and Avinash

Jeff and Avinash

Avinash and Jeff in a pool full of mud and ice

Avinash and Jeff in a pool full of mud and ice

Hyman Lab Show ‘n’ Tell

During the Show ‘n’ Tell session at “MPI-CBG Day” last week, the Hyman lab put on interactive and edible demonstrations for our visitors. Amayra made Spanish tortillas in the form of cells and spindles; Susanne, Andrea, and Marit taught people everything they wanted to know about C. elegans (and gummy worms); and Jeff put on a protein purification demo featuring everyone’s favorite “proteins” — candy bars. Andrés also made some very cool (not edible) representations of liquid-liquid phase separation. Thanks to the whole lab for getting involved and putting on a great show!

C. elegans demo

C. elegans demo

Jeff's "protein purification column"

Jeff’s “protein purification column”

Ina goes fishing for proteins in the cell lysate.

Ina goes fishing for proteins in the cell lysate.

Amayra's Spanish Tortilla cells and spindles

Amayra’s Spanish Tortilla cells and spindles

Happy birthday, Tony! See his new “Phase Transition Lamp”

We surprised Tony with cake and presents today, including a very special “phase transition lamp.” :)  Check it out next time you pay Tony a visit in his office. Happy birthday, Boss!

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Congratulations to Jeff & Oliver on their paper in Science on the in vitro assembly of pericentriolar matrix (PCM)

Congratulations to Jeff Woodruff, Oliver Wueseke, and colleagues on their recent publication in Science! This work describes a novel in vitro system for studying regulated assembly of the pericentriolar matrix (PCM), revealing that networks of the protein SPD-5 can polymerize into interconnected, porous networks that specifically recruit PCM proteins. Stay tuned for a video abstract, coming soon!

Centrosomes. Regulated assembly of a supramolecular centrosome scaffold in vitro. Woodruff JB, Wueseke O, Viscardi V, Mahamid J, Ochoa SD, Bunkenborg J, Widlund PO, Pozniakovsky A, Zanin E, Bahmanyar S,Zinke A, Hong SH, Decker M, Baumeister W, Andersen JS, Oegema K, Hyman AA. Science. 2015 May 15;348(6236):808-12. (Please visit our Publications page for the referrer links to the free full text and PDF.)

fig2 woodruff et al

The centrosome organizes microtubule arrays within animal cells and comprises two centrioles surrounded by an amorphous protein mass called the pericentriolar material (PCM). Despite the importance of centrosomes as microtubule-organizing centers, the mechanism and regulation of PCM assembly are not well understood. In Caenorhabditis elegans, PCM assembly requires the coiled-coil protein SPD-5. We found that recombinant SPD-5 could polymerize to form micrometer-sized porous networks in vitro. Network assembly was accelerated by two conserved regulators that control PCM assembly in vivo, Polo-like kinase-1 and SPD-2/Cep192. Only the assembled SPD-5 networks, and not unassembled SPD-5 protein, functioned as a scaffold for other PCM proteins. Thus, PCM size and binding capacity emerge from the regulated polymerization of one coiled-coil protein to form a porous network.

All the best to Annett in her new job!

Last week we bid a fond farewell to our staff scientist Annett Duemmler. Annett has been a fantastic asset to our transgeneomics and phase transition teams, and she will be greatly missed. This week marks the start of her new adventure in Business Development at Merck, covering the European and Asian markets. Best of luck, Annett, and come back to visit us soon!

Congratulations, Dr. Wüseke!

Last Friday, our graduate student Oliver (Olli) Wüseke valiantly and successfully defended his thesis and officially became Dr. Wüseke! Below you can see a picture of Olli in the special graduation cap made for him by the lab — a centrosome, complete with PCM, microtubules, and motor proteins carrying cargo (pictures of Olli through the years). Congratulations, Olli, on a job well done.

Olli wearing his centrosome hat

Olli wearing his centrosome hat

Olli's committee announces that he passed with flying colors

Olli’s committee announces that he passed with flying colors

Cell Podcast, featuring Maria and Tony discussing their recent Cell Reports paper!

Begasse et al, Temperature Dependence of Cell Division Timing Accounts for a Shift in the Thermal Limits of C. elegans and C. briggsae, is featured in this month’s Cell podcast! Maria and Tony discuss the paper in an interview starting at the 9:30 minute mark. Find a link on the Cell Reports home page (where our Two Minute Talk also gets a shout-out). To download the podcast directly, click here.

Tubulin in progress…

It’s tubulin prep time in the Hyman Lab! We’re teamed up with the Reber Lab, visiting from Berlin, for this labor-intensive process. 10 people, 3 days, and ~100 porcine brains as starting material. We’re nearing the end of day 2, which started at 4am this morning and is still going now at 10pm. But at least there was time for a pizza break! :)

cold room pizza break

New Two Minute Talk! Watch Maria Begasse’s video abstract for her new paper

The latest addition to our “Two Minute Talk” series is also our very first video abstract for a Hyman Lab publication (Begasse et al, 2015). Check it out below! And don’t miss Mark’s Two Minute Talk for more information on the current follow-up work in the lab related to Maria’s paper.

Written and narrated by Maria Begasse. Edited and produced by Lisa Dennison.

Goodbye and good luck to Yusuke!

We said goodbye to beloved Hyman lab postdoc Yusuke Toyoda last week, as he left Dresden to return to his new job as a Research Associate at the Institute of Life Science at Kurume University in Japan. During his time in the lab, Yusuke was an author on a dozen publications, including key work on transgeneomics, the MitoCheck consortium, cell rounding, and last year’s highly publicized paper on DJ1 and Parkinson’s disease.

Yusuke requested German food for his goodbye dinner, so we went to Augustiner at the Frauenkirche. View more photos of the goodbye party on our lab fun page. We’ll miss you, Yusuke, and we hope you come back to visit again soon!

Tony & Yusuke

4 more days to see Lens on Life in London!

Two lab members got a chance to check out the Lens on Life exhibit in London this weekend, the artistic output of the MitoSys consortium. If you’re there, don’t miss your opportunity to go see it this week, because it ends on Feb 27! (photos below by Lisa Dennison)

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So much cake! Publication and birthday celebrations.

It was a happy day in the Hyman lab! Yesterday we ate our weight in cake to celebrate the publication of Maria and Mark’s paper, and to celebrate Jeff’s birthday. Maria baked 3 cakes, Olli baked one — and all 4 were delicious.

Mark, Maria, Jeff, and 4 cakes

Mark, Maria, Jeff, and 4 cakes

Congratulations to Simone Reber on her Inaugural Symposium at IRI Life Sciences

We’re so proud of Hyman Lab alumnus Simone Reber, who gave a fantastic lecture yesterday at her Inaugural Symposium as a new group leader at the Integrative Research Institute (IRI) for the Life Sciences in Berlin. Another great treat of the symposium was a guest lecture by Nobel laureate Tim Hunt.

Way to go, Simone! We’re looking forward to seeing the great things that come out of the new Reber lab.

Tim Hunt (front) answers questions following his lecture. Simone Reber and Andreas Herrmann stand behind him.

Tim Hunt (front) answers questions following his lecture. Simone Reber and Andreas Herrmann stand behind him.

Simone begins her Inaugural lecture

Simone begins her Inaugural lecture

New Two Minute Talk! Mark explains the effect of temperature on nematodes

Describe your project in 2 minutes or less! In the latest addition to our “Two Minute Talk” series, postdoc Mark Leaver explains how he studies the adaptation of nematodes to habitats of different temperatures.

Written and narrated by Mark Leaver. Edited and produced by Lisa Dennison.

Congratulations to Maria on her paper, which illuminates how the temperature tolerance of cell division allows organisms to adapt to be viable at a higher temperature range

Congratulations to Hyman lab members Maria Begasse and Mark Leaver on their publication in Cell Reports, which is open access and available now online! Click here for the full text.

Begasse M, Leaver M, Vazquez F, Grill SW, Hyman AA. Temperature dependence of cell division timing accounts for a shift in the thermal limits of C. elegans and C. briggsae. (2015). Cell Reports 10, 647-653.

Graphical Abstract, Cell Reports

Graphical Abstract, Cell Reports

In Brief: With climate change, it is important to understand how temperature affects the fitness of cold-blooded organisms. Begasse et al. show that the temperature dependence of cell division differs in two closely related nematodes. This shift in the temperature response has corresponding effects on development and reproductive output.

Stay tuned for a podcast and video abstract about the paper, coming soon!

Two new publications: cell rounding and cell surface proteomes

Two new publications came out last month as a result of collaborations between Hyman lab members and other labs. Congratulations to everyone involved!

  • Quantitative comparison of a human cancer cell surface proteome between interphase and mitosis. Özlü N, Qureshi MH, Toyoda Y, Renard BY, Mollaoglu G, Özkan NE, Bulbul S, Poser I, Timm W, Hyman AA, Mitchison TJ, Steen JA. EMBO J. 2015 Jan 14;34(2):251-65. doi: 10.15252/embj.201385162. [PubMed]
  • Cdk1-dependent mitotic enrichment of cortical myosin II promotes cell rounding against confinement. Ramanathan SP, Helenius J, Stewart MP, Cattin CJ, Hyman AA, Muller DJ. Nat Cell Biol. 2015 Feb;17(2):148-59. doi: 10.1038/ncb3098. Epub 2015 Jan 26. [PubMed]

Science in Dresden is international and colorful

photo by L.Dennison


Last night there was a huge event in the Dresden city center, “Open-minded and colorful — Dresden for all.” Over 22,000 people attended this concert and rally to show their support for tolerance, empathy, and open-mindedness in our city. MPI-CBG director Kai Simons gave a great speech, and our Media Department put together a fantastic video featuring scientists of the CRTD. Check out the video here, and to get a feeling for the massive size of the crowd, see a 360-degree panoramic photo of the event here!  For more on the event, please visit the website of Dresden – Place to Be!

Tony gives talk at RIKEN in Japan


Today, Tony gave a lecture on “Liquid-like compartments in cells: Implications for polarity and disease” at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan (see poster below). This visit also gave him the chance to catch up with former Hyman lab postdoc Yusuke Toyoda! Yusuke is now a researcher at the Institute of Life Science at Kurume University in Japan. Here’s a photo of a very happy Yusuke, out to dinner with Tony in Kobe this evening.


tony at RIKEN