Anne Spang Research Group receives Sinergia SNSF Contribution
As part of the Sinergia program promoted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the multidisciplinary research project entitled "Regulation of early to late endosomal traffic” led by Professor Anne Spang of the Biozentrum University of Basel, will receive a contribution total of 1.5 million Swiss Francs. In collaboration with Professor Ari Helenius of the ETH Zurich and Professor Jean Gruenberg of the University of Geneva, the research team will be working over the next three years on the detailed elucidation of an important cellular transport mechanism, with particular emphasis on the maturation of endosomes.
During the transport process called endocytosis, cells actively take up microorganisms, proteins and particles and soluble substances. The cell membrane invaginates and constricts resulting in intracellular transport vesicles that are transported to the endosomes. Endosomes play a central role in the regulation of cellular metabolic pathways, because these will determine whether the recovered material is recycled or degraded. The sorting of cargo takes place in early endosomes. The recyclable material is sorted at this point and the remainder passes through the subsequent endosomes to be degraded in lysosomes. The ensuing endosomes result due to a complex maturation process that ensures that only the degraded material remains in the endosomes.
As early as 2010, scientists led by Professor Anne Spang, found a central switch that controls the maturation of early to late endosomes. Nevertheless, many questions remain unanswered: How is the maturation of endosomes regulated in cells? What changes occur during the maturation process and why are they necessary? How do viruses benefit from this process to infect host cells? Anne Spang, in collaboration with the researchers from the ETH Zürich and the University of Geneva would like to answer these and many other questions. The SNSF-funded Sinergia project's multidisciplinary team of researchers will examine the regulation of endosomes at the molecular level and the interactions between its components. With these results, the researchers hope to better understand the function of endosomes and the involved metabolic pathways. In addition the results, especially for infection biologists dealing with host-pathogen interactions, will be of great interest. After the elucidation of this research, such as how pathogens in cellular endocytosis mechanisms take advantage of host cells, it will reveal not only possible routes of infection, but will also open up new therapeutic possibilities.
Sinergia is a program of the Swiss National Science Foundation, which promotes collaborative research between three to six research groups. This year 36 out of 92 submitted projects have been awarded; the funding amounts totalling 46 million Swiss Francs. The targeted promotion of the cooperation between different research groups, allows researchers to penetrate new and promising research areas to address complex scientific questions and to further their research knowledge at an international level.
Contact: Communications, Katrin Bühler