Cell Biology and Genetics (Osman)

Department / Institute
Faculty of Biology
Subject area
Cell Biology and Genetics
Project title
Quality control of the mitochondrial genome
Name of supervisor
Prof. Christof Osman
Number of open positions
Language requirements
Proficiency in English
Academic requirements
4-year Bachelor's plus Master's Degree; at the time of application, the last final exam should have taken place in the past 4 years.
Study model
Full doctoral study model: 36 or 48 months

Project description

Mitochondria are known as the power plants of the cell because they supply the cell with energy through a process known as oxidative phosphorylation. Essential subunits of the complexes responsible for this process are encoded by the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA). mtDNA is present in multiple copies within cells and these copies are distributed throughout the mitochondrial network. Given the fundamental importance of mtDNA in cellular energy supply, it is not surprising that mtDNA mutations have been linked to a variety of diseases and also the ageing process.

Currently, it is unclear how cells combat accumulation of mutant mtDNA copies to ensure maintenance of a healthy pool of mtDNA copies. Strikingly, we could previously show that the single-celled model organism S. cerevisiae can intracellularly distinguish between intact and mutant mtDNA copies and promote generation of progeny containing predominantly intact mtDNA. However, it remains unknown how cells determine mtDNA quality to eventually facilitate propagation of intact over mutant mtDNA copies.

Within this project, we aim to harness the power of cutting-edge microscopy techniques and sophisticated image analysis to pioneer a dynamic live-cell imaging methodology that will illuminate the ongoing competition between mutant and intact mtDNA copies over successive generations in the yeast S. cerevisiae. This tool will provide insight into mtDNA quality control with unprecedented temporal detail. We will then apply this methodology to understand the cellular mechanisms that underlie mtDNA quality control.

By joining our team, you will become an integral force in this voyage, contributing to deciphering the intricate web of cellular strategies that safeguard the integrity of mtDNA, thereby securing energy supply of cells.

Required qualifications: experience with molecular and cell biological techniques, microscopy and basic programming


Jakubke C.*, Roussou R.*, Maiser A., Schug C., Thoma F., Bunk D., Hörl D., Leonhardt H., Walter P., Klecker T. & Osman C. (2021) Cristae-dependent quality control of the mitochondrial genome. Science Advances, Vol 7, Issue 36

For further information, please contact Christof Osman: osman@bio.lmu.de

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