A joint project of the research director Pekka Lappalainen at the Institute of Biotechnology, Professor Patricia Bassereau at Curie Institute, France, and Professor Gregory Voth at the University of Chicago, USA, has been awarded a Human Frontier Science Program Research Grant to investigate the filopodia formation mechanism by physical, computational and biological approaches. Bassereau, Lappalainen and Voth will share 1,050,000 USD for the three-year project.
Filopodia are thin, actin-rich protrusions at the cell edge. They function as "antennae" that the cells use to probe their microenvironment during cell migration. They are also involved in guidance towards chemoattractants, neuronal pathfinding, synapse formation, and embryonic development.
– Defects in formation or dynamics of filopodia are linked to many diseases such as cancer cell invasion and neurological disorders. The mechanisms by which the filopodia are generated in cells are still largely unknown. We intend to find them out. My group is going to be responsible for the cell biological work. The Basserau lab concentrates on biophysical methods, and the Voth lab on computational methods, Pekka Lappalainen describes.
The groups have a specific interest to reveal how various filopodial proteins communicate with the plasma membrane during these processes. Collectively, they hope to uncover new general principles behind the formation of membrane protrusions in cells, and additionally elucidate the principles of various human disorders associated with abnormal filopodia dynamics.
More on Human Frontier Science Program
The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) awarded about 34 million USD to the 32 winning teams of the 2016 competition for the HFSP Research Grants.
Applicants went through a year-long selection process that started with 871 submitted letters from scientists in 64 different countries around the world. In 2016 seven Young Investigator Grants (involving 22 scientists) and 25 Program Grants (involving 78 scientists) were awarded. Each team member received on average 110,000 - 125,000 USD per year for three years.