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Functional Biology

Prof. Joris Winderickx : Yeast Biotechnology

Nutrient-induced signal transduction in yeast.

In this research line, the main target is to understand the regulatory network that links the sensing of different nutrients, such as carbon, nitrogen, amino acid and phosphate, to the control of gene expression, metabolism, stress resistance and growth in yeast. Although we and others made already considerable progress in the field of nutrient-induced signalling, most studies were limited to the identification of the proteins involved and the elucidation of their relation from the view point of linear signalling cascades. Hence, our current approach does not only deal with the top-down elucidation of single nutrient-responsive pathways but also with the more global unravelling of nutrient signalling networks and the characterization of converging effector-branches of the pathways in yeast. This should provide an explanation for the dynamical and very coordinated nutritional response.


Yeast cells as versatile model systems.

This second line of research originated from the finding that different yeast nutrient-sensitive signalling cascades are at the origin of the more sophisticated pathways found in higher eukaryotes, where hormonal control have assumed increasingly greater importance. This led us to use yeast cells to demonstrate the regulatory properties of plant and mammalian proteins. Subsequently, we also started to develop humanized model systems that allowed studying various molecular aspects associated with different human diseases where our current focus is on models for neurological disorders related to tau and α-synuclein.