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Torsten Wittmann Ph.D.

Cytoskeletal dynamics, molecular and cell biology, live cell imaging

Torsten Wittmann Ph.D.

Dr. Wittmann's laboratory focuses on the function and spatiotemporal regulation of the microtubule cytoskeleton during complex cell behaviors. Microtubules are polymers that frequently switch between polymerization and depolymerization. These non-equilibrium dynamics may allow microtubule ends to explore the cytoplasm to interact with specific intracellular targets. We are interested in a fascinating group of proteins that are defined by their dynamic localization to growing microtubule ends in cells. The functions of these +TIPs are not well understood. In addition, it is quite mysterious how +TIPs recognize growing microtubule ends, and microtubule association of certain +TIPs is spatiotemporally regulated in cells. We use biochemical and cell biological techniques in combination with live cell confocal microscopy to examine how these and other cytoskeletal proteins determine cell behavior in different experimental model systems. This includes planar polarized keratinocytes that directionally migrate at the edge of epithelial cell sheets, apical-basal polarized epithelial cells in a three-dimensional extracellular matrix, and endothelial cells that establish planar polarity in response to fluid shear stress.

Selected publications:

Stehbens S, Wittmann T. Targeting and transport: How microtubules control focal adhesion dynamics. J Cell Biol. 2012 Aug 20; 198(4):481-9.

Kumar P, Wittmann T. +TIPs: SxIPping along microtubule ends. Trends Cell Biol. 2012 Aug; 22(8):418-28.

Gierke S, Wittmann T. EB1-Recruited Microtubule +TIP Complexes Coordinate Protrusion Dynamics during 3D Epithelial Remodeling. Curr Biol. 2012 May 8; 22(9):753-62.

Kumar P, Chimenti MS, Pemble H, Schönichen A, Thompson O, Jacobson MP, Wittmann T. Multisite Phosphorylation Disrupts Arginine-Glutamate Salt Bridge Networks Required for Binding of Cytoplasmic Linker-associated Protein 2 (CLASP2) to End-binding Protein 1 (EB1). J Biol Chem. 2012 May 18; 287(21):17050-64.

Stehbens S, Pemble H, Murrow L, Wittmann T. Imaging intracellular protein dynamics by spinning disk confocal microscopy. Methods Enzymol. 2012; 504:293-313.

Haynes J, Srivastava J, Madson N, Wittmann T, Barber DL. Dynamic actin remodeling during epithelial-mesenchymal transition depends on increased moesin expression. Mol Biol Cell. 2011 Dec; 22(24):4750-64.

Elwell CA, Jiang S, Kim JH, Lee A, Wittmann T, Hanada K, Melancon P, Engel JN. Chlamydia trachomatis co-opts GBF1 and CERT to acquire host sphingomyelin for distinct roles during intracellular development. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Sep; 7(9):e1002198.
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Matov A, Applegate K, Kumar P, Thoma C, Krek W, Danuser G, Wittmann T. Analysis of microtubule dynamic instability using a plus-end growth marker. Nat Methods. 2010 Sep; 7(9):761-8.
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Gierke S, Kumar P, Wittmann T. Analysis of microtubule polymerization dynamics in live cells. Methods Cell Biol. 2010; 97:15-33.
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Kumar P, Lyle KS, Gierke S, Matov A, Danuser G, Wittmann T. GSK3beta phosphorylation modulates CLASP-microtubule association and lamella microtubule attachment. J Cell Biol. 2009 Mar 23; 184(6):895-908.