The wealth of available methods and the easy handling make C. elegans an ideal object for all kinds of studies and theses (Internships, B.Sc. Thesis, M.Sc. Thesis).

Usually these studies are parts of larger research projects in the lab. Our current projects are centered around the lab’s two main research interests: tumorgenesis (cancer) und neurodegeneration (Parkinson’s Disease). Our main focus currently lies on membrane dynamics: these processes are important for the creation, release and reuptake of vesicles and organelles, e.g.  synaptic vesicles and neurotransmitter release, endocytosis, phagocytosis, sorting processes inside the cell, autophagy and mitochondrial dynamics. These processes are discussed today as the main factors in the development of both cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. 

All our C. elegans projects  deal with genes/mechanisms that are conserved in humans. This is true for the genes involved in insulin/IGF- as well as  mTOR-signalling, SGK-1 (serum-and-glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1), PINK-1, Parkin and LRRK2.

Common techniques that can be learned and used in the course of a 1- to 6-month internship are for example:

• CRISPR/Cas9 to manipulate the genome of an organism (introduction of disease relevant point-mutations, gene deletions, reporter-gene constructs)

• analyses of reporter-genes in novel genes of interest

• genetic crossing experiments (classical mendel-genetics), to test the interactions of mutations in different genes  (suppression, enhancement)

• analyses of signalling pathways

• functional testing of human genes/gene variants in C. elegans (genetical rescue experiments)

• pharmacological impact on gene functions

• influence of stress and environmental factors (e.g. food) on signalling pathways and behavioural output

• lifespan analyses

• biochemical characterization of protein variants

• protein interactions

• mass spectrometry analyses of protein modifications and protein dynamics

• RNA-interference screens (genome wide or targeting families of genes/proteins)

• cell-biological characterizations

• imaging (of gene expression, cell dynamics, developmental processes).

• mutant screens incl. bioinformatic analyses (mapping of mutations)


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