Mapping ceramide homeostatic machinery involved in programmed cell death


Project description
This project originates from a novel concept developed by the host lab, namely that mammalian cells are equipped with a ceramide sensor to avoid jeopardizing their viability during sphingolipid biosynthesis. Disrupting sensor function causes a deregulation of ER ceramides and their mislocalization to mitochondria, triggering a mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. In this project, bifunctional lipid technology will be combined with proteomics approaches and a functional screen to track down ceramide trafficking machinery operating at the ER-mitochondrial interface as well as the downstream ceramide effectors responsible for committing cells to death.

Further reading
Vacaru et al., 2009, J Cell Biol 185:1013-1027
Puts et al., 2010, J Proteome Res 9:833-842
Tafesse and Holthuis, 2010, Nature 463:1028-1029

Host institute
Universität Osnabrück (UOS), Germany
Molecular Cell Biology Division
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Joost Holthuis
Phone: +49 541969 7140

The UOS is a young university located in the historical town of Osnabrück, the only German city situated in a national park (the ‘UNESCO Geo park TERRA.vita’). The newly established Molecular Cell Biology Division, led by Joost Holthuis, is embedded in the strongly interdisciplinary Collaborative Research Centre “Physiology and Dynamics of Cellular Microcompartments”, which comprises 14 research groups from the Universities of Osnabrück and Münster whose common focus is both thematically and methodologically linked to the current project. The Division and Research Centre offer an outstanding scientific environment as well as direct access to state-of-the-art facilities in chemical biology, biophysics, proteomics, lipidomics, electron microscopy and live cell imaging.

•    We are looking for an ambitious and interactive individual with MSc degree in biochemistry, molecular cell biology or chemical biology. A solid background in assay development is an advantage. Prior experience with RNAi and/or lentivirus transduction of mammalian cells is an asset.
•    The candidate will be part of an international team of chemists, geneticists, biophysicists, biochemists and cancer biologists. Good communication skills are essential.
•    Proactive participation in SPHINGONET’s research & training program is expected through presentations and critical thinking at internal scientific forums, requiring excellent English presentation and writing skills. The ability to work in a team is a must.
•    Candidates must fulfill the eligibility criteria for Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (FP7).
•    Candidates should submit the complete application package.
•    Suitable candidates will be invited for an interview by the supervisor of the project.

•    PhD student for 3 years. Extension of the contract to 4 years is possible.
•    Full-time (42 hours/week).