Leif Dehmelt

Leif Dehmelt

Research Group Leader, Systemic Cell Biology 

Cell Morphodynamics

Research Interests

The development and function of multicellular organisms critically depends on regulated cell morphology changes. Perturbations in the signal networks that control those changes can lead to developmental anomalies or cancer. In our research group, we investigate how the morphology and function of mammalian cells is controlled by such signal networks. We particularly focus on self-organizing pattern forming mechanisms that emerge from coupled reactions and diffusion of molecules inside individual cells [1-3]. To study those systems, we implement an interdisciplinary approach [1, 4,5] that combines acute, microscopy-based experimental perturbations, the development of novel analysis technologies and theoretical investigations.


Controlling intracellular signal network dynamics with light - The research group of Leif Dehmelt combined optogenetic and theoretical analyses to uncover the mechanisms that control cell contraction dynamics and their regulation by biochemical and mechanical inputs. Published in Cell Reports.

A sense of touch for cells - The research groups of Leif Dehmelt and Perihan Nalbant (University Duisburg-Essen) identified a mechanism that enables a cellular sense of touch via local pulses of the signaling molecule Rho. Published in the Journal of Cell Biology. more >

We always welcome applications from qualified and highly motivated individuals (MSc and postdoc level). Please contact us via email to discuss details. Applicants for PhD positions will have to apply through the IMPRS-CMB program, but we are happy to discuss opportunities and projects any time.

Selected Publications

PubMed List>

[1] Kamps, D, Koch J, Juma VO, Campillo-Funollet E, Graessl M, Banerjee S, Mazel T, Chen X, Wu YW, Portet S, Madzvamuse A, Nalbant P, Dehmelt L. (2020). Optogenetic Tuning Reveals Rho Amplification-Dependent Dynamics of a Cell Contraction Signal Network. Cell Reports

[2] Graessl M, Koch J, Calderon A, Kamps D, Banerjee S, Mazel T, Schulze N, Jungkurth JK, Patwardhan R, Solouk D, Hampe N, Hoffmann B, Dehmelt L, Nalbant P (2017). An excitable Rho GTPase signaling network generates dynamic subcellular contraction patterns. J Cell Biol 21(14):5311-6.
doi: 10.1083/jcb.201706052.

[3] Dehmelt L, Bastiaens PI (2010). Spatial organization of intracellular communication: insights from imaging. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 11(6):440-52.
doi: 10.1038/nrm2903.

[4] Chen X, Venkatachalapathy M, Kamps D, Weigel S, Kumar R, Orlich M, Garrecht R, Hirtz M, Niemeyer CM, Wu YW, Dehmelt L. (2017). "Molecular-Activity Painting": Switch-like, Light-Controlled Perturbations inside Living Cells. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 21(14):5311-6.
doi: 10.1002/anie.201611432

[5] Gandor S, Reisewitz S, Venkatachalapathy M, Arrabito G, Reibner M, Schröder H, Ruf K, Niemeyer CM, Bastiaens PI, Dehmelt L (2013). A protein-interaction array inside a living cell. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 52(18):4790-4.
doi: 10.1002/anie.201209127.

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