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Cell Biology/Cell Migration

Instructor: Daria Siekhaus (DS), Michael Sixt (MS)

Teaching Assistant: Shamsi Emtenani (SE), Stephanie Wachner (SW)

First term spring, February 27 through April 27, 2017


Students will learn about cell migration and its underlying cell biology through lectures and dissection of the primary literature. Topics included will be the cytoskeleton, force transmission and adhesion, cell signaling, cell polarity and cell migration. Quantitative and interdisciplinary perspectives on the topics will be highlighted. Students will further develop their independent thinking, knowledge of the techniques utilized in these areas, and ability to critically assess the literature.


Requirements and Exams:

Extensive reading in preparation for participation and leading discussions in class, recitations, a grant submitted by the end of the half-term as the final.



2 weekly 75 min lectures Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:15-11:30, 1 weekly recitations Mondi 1, 11:45-12:30


Academic Credits:



Each lecture:

One paper presentation by a student or group of students, (non biologists will be paired with biologists for paper presentation if they wish it).  The student will lead the discussion, but every student in the class should be prepared to state what is in a particular figure or what the paper is about.





Prepare a 4-5 page grant proposal on a topic of your choosing related to cell migration or other topics covered in the course, either inspired by one of the papers in the grant, or some other related area.  1) Discuss the background in the field that led to your picking this question as the key one to address (1/2 to 3/4 of a page). 2) Define the question and why it is important (at most two paragraphs). 3) Describe the set of experiments you would carry out over 3 years to address the question, including potential difficulties and alternate plans. 4) Describe the potential impact of the findings (one paragraph). 5) References (don't count towards 5 pages total).

Grants are due April 27.  Hand in to Alex Mally in the office on the 3rd floor bridge.


Background Reading:

As we have students from different backgrounds, the reading is at diverse levels.  If you have not taken biology before, read the Essential Cell Biology book, which presents things in a simpler format and try to read the review.  If you have taken biology but not much cell biology, then read the Alberts Molecular Biology of the Cell and the review.  If you have already covered the topic before, skim Alberts to refresh your memory if you need to and read the review.  There are specific instructions for the different lectures on which things the students from different backgrounds are suggested to read.


Paper presentation:




Ask us (Daria, Michl, Steffi, Shamsi) before your presentation if anything is unclear!

Send us an e-mail to arrange a meeting anytime

Or drop by in the walk in hour:

Fri 10-11 am either DS or MS will be available in their offices:

DS on 3rd floor Bertalanffy, middle office, MS 2nd floor Bertalanffy, last office



Date Topic Location Instructor
February 28th Intro and Migration overview Mondi 1 MS/DS
March 2nd Bacterial chemotaxis Mondi 1 DS
March 6th Recitation Mondi 1 SE+SW
March 7th Cytoskeleton; the internal scaffolds of the cell and engines of migration Mondi 1 DS
March 9th Cytoskeleton; the internal scaffolds of the cell and engines of migration Mondi 1 DS (MS gone)
March 13th Recitation Mondi 1 SE+SW
March 14th Force transmission: converting cytoskeletal dynamics into movement Mondi 1 DS (MS gone)
March 16th Signaling & Polarity in migrating cells from different systems Mondi 1 DS (MS gone)
March 20th Recitation Mondi 1 SE+SW
March 21st Signaling & Polarity in migrating cells from different systems Mondi 1 MS
March 23rd Signaling & Polarity in migrating cells from different systems Mondi 1 DS
March 27th Recitation Mondi 1 SE+SW
March 28th Signaling & Polarity in migrating cells from different systems meeting room BFB 3. floor (bridge) MS (DS gone)
March 30th Collective Cell Migration of cells in vivo Mondi 1 MS (DS gone)
April 3rd Recitation Mondi 1 SE+SW
April 4th Collective Cell Migration of cells in vivo meeting room BFB 3. floor (bridge) MS (DS gone)
Easter break      
April 24th wrap up session at 2PM ! Mondi 3 MS+DS
April 25th Immune cell migration Mondi 1 DS

Course documents

Session date papers notes presented by
Meeting 2 (March 2nd) Brown & Berg 1974   Maria
    Gardiner & Atema 2010 both papers good for theorists Michael
Recitation 1 (March 6th) Alberts Essentials Chapter 17 Non-Biologists  
    Alberts Chapter 16 Biologists  
    Pollard et al. 2007 Everyone  
Meeting 3 (March 7th) Loisel et al. 1999   Julian
Meeting 4 (March 9th) Theriot & Mitchison 1991    
    Watanabe & Mitchison 2002   Alex & Lanxin
Recitation 2 (March 13th) Renkawitz & Sixt 2011    
Meeting 5 (March 14th) Suter et al. 1998   Laura
Meeting 6 (March 16th) Parent et al. 1998   Laura
Recitation 3 (March 20th) Albert Essentials Chapter 16 Non-Biologists  
    Alberts Chapter 15 Biologists  
    Weiner 2002 Everyone  
Meeting 7 (March 21st) Ming et al. 2002   Julia
Meeting 8 (March 23rd) Yang et al. 2015   Alex
Recitation 4 (March 27th) Alberts Chapter 16    
    Ridley et al. 2003 Everyone  
Meeting 9 (March 28th) Xu et al. 2003   Julian
Meeting 10 (March 30th) Miller et al. 2002   Paulo
Recitation 5 (April 3rd) Friedl & Gilmour 2009    
Meeting 11 (April 4th) Venkiteswaran et al. 2013   Michael
    Dona et al. 2013 alternative  
Recitation 6 (April 24th) None Use recitation time to pose questions about previous topics and grant  
Meeting 12 (April 25th) Wang et al. 2010   Paulo
    Additional documents    
Course Syllabus        
Recitation 1(pdf) Recitation 1 (word file)      
Recitation 2 (pdf)        
Recitation 3 (pdf)        
Recitation 4 (pdf)        
alternative Review about collective migration (pdf) Alberts Chapter 19 (cell junctions) (pdf) summary cell-cell juntions (pdf) Recitation 5 (pdf)