Torsten Wittmann, PhD

Department of Cell & Tissue Biology
+1 415 476-2603
Research Description: 

Modern molecular biology presents us with a growing list of molecules that build a living cell. However, how the diverse activities of these molecules are coordinated in space and time to generate functional and dynamic cell biology is an increasingly complex and essentially unresolved question. Intracellular dynamics are coordinated by the cytoskeleton, and we are interested in how microtubules, a highly dynamic filament system inside eukaryotic cells, control cell behavior and morphogenesis in human tissue culture models, such as cancer and hiPSC-derived neurons by using advanced microscopy, optogenetics and microfabrication.

In ongoing projects, we ask how Doublecortin, a microtubule-associated protein frequently mutated in neurodevelopmental cortical malformations, and related proteins control microtubule function in developing neurons. We also develop optogenetic tools to control intracellular protein activities with high spatial and temporal accuracy aiming to guide cell division and neuronal development to engineer synthetic neuron network modules, and we develop microscopy to better visualize cancer and neuronal cell dynamics in physiological 3D environments.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Cancer Biology & Cell Signaling
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Tissue / Organ Biology & Endocrinology
Research Summary: 
Microtubule control of cell dynamics


Featured Publications: 

Doublecortin Is Excluded from Growing Microtubule Ends and Recognizes the GDP-Microtubule Lattice.

Current biology : CB

Ettinger A, van Haren J, Ribeiro SA, Wittmann T

CLASPs link focal-adhesion-associated microtubule capture to localized exocytosis and adhesion site turnover.

Nature cell biology

Stehbens SJ, Paszek M, Pemble H, Ettinger A, Gierke S, 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).

The Journal of biological chemistry

Kumar P, Chimenti MS, Pemble H, Schönichen A, Thompson O, Jacobson MP, Wittmann T

Analysis of microtubule dynamic instability using a plus-end growth marker.

Nature methods

Matov A, Applegate K, Kumar P, Thoma C, Krek W, Danuser G, Wittmann T