Assistant Professor at Utrecht University
EDUCATION AND TRAINING:
Lukas Kapitein studied Physics and Astronomy at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he also received his PhD in Biophysics in 2007. His postdoctoral training in Neurobiology was at the Erasmus Medical Center, funded by an NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls ALW-VENI grant and an Erasmus MC Fellowship.
Our goal is to obtain a physical understanding of the mechanisms by which cells establish and maintain their precise shape and intracellular organization. We focus on the cytoskeleton, a mechanical network of biopolymers and associated proteins that gives the cell its shape and strength. Motor proteins can move over these biopolymers to deliver cargo to specific subcellular compartments or to reorganize the fibers themselves.
Our research currently concentrates on the cytoskeleton of neurons, the brain cells whose complex spatial architecture and polarized organization into axons and dendrites are crucial for proper functioning. Obtaining physical insight in the mechanisms that establish polarity, polarized transport and dendrite maturation is important, as neurodegenerative diseases often correlate with altered morphology and distorted intracellular transport. Our research is organized around two central ambitions:
• Finding the road map: we employ or develop advanced optical methods to resolve the precise intracellular architecture and dynamics of the neuronal cytoskeleton. This includes mapping the distribution of microtubule orientations and modifications, as well as their plus and minus ends using STED and dSTORM superresolution microscopy.
• Finding the traffic rules: we employ or develop controlled intracellular assays to probe the cooperative dynamics of specific motor-cargo assemblies. This will reveal how specific motor proteins interact with the neuronal cytoskeleton to drive selective transport to dendrites and axons, as wells as in and out of dendritic spines.
In the role of Faculty Member, Lukas Kapitein contributes recommendations and reviews to the Cytoskeleton Section in the Cell Biology Faculty, writing brief accessible comments to summarize the value of the articles and adding rating score.
The Faculty comprises Heads of Faculty, Heads of Section, Faculty Members and Associate Faculty Members, as well as an International Advisory Board.
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