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minimal-phagocyte SIGNED

Reconstitution of the basic molecular mechanism of phagocytosis – a bottom-up synthetic biology approach

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 minimal-phagocyte project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the minimal-phagocyte project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "minimal-phagocyte" about.

phagocyte    innate    2020    biophysics    ultimately    signalling    cues    engulf    fill    particle    receptors    cortex    polymerisation    closure    always    ant    cell    horizon    membrane    players    initiation    edge    apoptotic    biophysical    molecular    deforms    components    functions    dynamic    giant    model    reorganisation    line    phagocytosis    artificial    actin    phagocytic    objects    mobility    reconstitute    affinity    biology    minimal    vesicles    biotechnological    microorganisms    net    unilamellar    requiring    erasynbio    protocells    little    cytoskeleton    drivers    cutting    nevertheless    era    guvs    remodelling    render    supporting    answer    individual    spatial    abscission    wrap    reshapes    sufficient    biotechnologies    drug    creation    ing    innovation    thereby    engulfment    binding    invading    cells    directed    questions    basic    cellular    tissue    wrapping    synthetic    gap    internalised    cup    basis    process    immunity   

Project "minimal-phagocyte" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: Munich
postcode: 80539

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 159˙460 €
 EC max contribution 159˙460 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2015
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-ST
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-09-01   to  2018-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The ability of cells to engulf large objects, such as invading microorganisms or apoptotic cells, is crucial to innate immunity and tissue remodelling. The molecular basis of this process - phagocytosis - is complex, involving numerous receptors and signalling pathways. Nevertheless, the biophysical process is always the same: the cell membrane deforms and reshapes to wrap around the particle, and upon closure and abscission of the resultant cup, the particle is internalised. Although the key molecular players in individual phagocytic pathways have been identified, we still know very little about the basic biophysics common to all phagocytic pathways. I propose to fill this gap in our knowledge by creating a “minimal phagocyte”: I aim to reconstitute a minimal, dynamic actin cytoskeleton and artificial phagocytic receptors in giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs), thereby identifying the molecular components that are not only necessary but also sufficient for phagocytosis. Using synthetic biology to build a bottom-up model of phagocytosis should answer many open questions, including: are spatial cues resulting from particle binding required for membrane wrapping around the particle? Is directed initiation of actin polymerisation sufficient to render GUVs capable of phagocytosis? What is the role of the membrane-supporting actin cortex and how does the affinity of the receptors affect the engulfment process? Beyond phagocytosis, the minimal-model approach I propose will also be useful to study other cellular functions requiring actin-driven membrane reorganisation, such as cell mobility. In line with the objectives set by ERA-NET ERASynBio and the Horizon 2020 work programme (which identified synthetic biology as one of the “cutting-edge biotechnologies as future innovation drivers”), the creation of “protocells” will not only enhance our understanding of biology, but ultimately also result in novel biotechnological applications, such as improved drug delivery systems.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Thomas Litschel, Kristina A Ganzinger, Torgeir Movinkel, Michael Heymann, Tom Robinson, Hannes Mutschler, Petra Schwille
Freeze-thaw cycles induce content exchange between cell-sized lipid vesicles
published pages: 55008, ISSN: 1367-2630, DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/aabb96
New Journal of Physics 20/5 2019-06-13

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