skip to primary navigationskip to content

Prof Ewa K Paluch

Prof Ewa K Paluch

Professor of Anatomy

Fellow of Trinity College

Ewa Paluch is accepting applications for PhD students.


Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 33833

Research Interests

The mechanobiology of cell shape control

My group investigates the basic principles underlying animal cell morphogenesis. A precise control of cellular shape is key to cell physiology, and cell shape deregulation is at the heart of many pathological disorders including cancer. Yet, how cells regulate their own shape remains poorly understood. We investigate this question taking an interdisciplinary approach combining molecular and cell biology, quantitative imaging, mechanical measurements and physical modelling.

We particularly focus on the cell cortex, a thin actomyosin network that lies under the plasma membrane and determines the shape of most animal cells. The cortex enables the cell to resist externally applied stresses and to exert mechanical work. As such, it plays a role in normal physiology during events involving cell deformation such as cell division and migration, and in the pathophysiology of diseases such as cancer where cell shape is often deregulated.

Key questions we investigate include:

  • The nanoscale architecture of the cortex, to understand cortex mechanics across scales, from molecular processes up.
  • The biomechanics of cell division and migration.
  • The cross-talk between cell shape and cell fate in mouse embryonic stem cells.

The lab is in the process of moving from the MRC-LMCB, University College London, to PDN.

Main sources of funding: ERC, BBSRC, MRC, Leverhulme Trust

Main Collaborators

Guillaume Charras (LCN, UCL, UK)
Ricardo Henriques (MRC LMCB, UK)
Philippe Roux (IRIC,  Canada)
Guillaume Salbreux (Francis Crick Institute, UK)
Kevin Chalut (Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, UK)
Jenny Nichols (University of Cambridge, UK)
Ohad Medalia (University of Zurich, Switzerland)


Biography

2013-2019 | Professor of Cell Biophysics and MRC Group Leader, UCL, UK
2006-2012 | Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics Dresden, Germany; joint appointment with the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Warsaw, Poland
2001-2005 | PhD in Biophysics, University Paris 7/Institut Curie, Paris, France
2000-2001 | DEA (Master) "Interface Physics BIology", University Paris 7/Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France
1999-2000 | Agrégation in Physics
1997-1999 | BSc in Physics, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France

Awards

2019 | Laureate in the Life Sciences of the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK 
2018 | elected EMBO member
2017 | Hooke Medal from the British society for Cell Biology
2014 | Philip Leverhulme Prize in Biological Sciences for contributions to Cell Biophysics  

Key Publications

Chugh P, Clark AG, Smith MB, Cassani DA, Ragab A, Roux P, Charras G, Salbreux G, Paluch EK. (2017) Actin cortex architecture regulates cell surface tension. Nat Cell Biol. 19:689-697.

Diz-Muñoz A, Romanczuk P, Yu W, Bergert M, Ivanovitch K, Salbreux G, Heisenberg CP, Paluch EK. (2016) Steering cell migration by alternating blebs and lamellipodia. BMC Biol. 14:74

Bergert M, Erzberger A, Desai RA, Aspalter IM, Oates AC, Charras G, Salbreux G,Paluch EK. (2015) Force transmission during adhesion-independent migration. Nat Cell Biol, 17:524-529.

Bovellan M, Romeo Y, Biro M, Boden A, Chugh P, Yonis A, Vaghela M, Fritzsche M,Moulding D, Thorogate R, Jégou A, Thrasher AJ, Romet-Lemonne G, Roux PP*, Paluch EK*, Charras G*. (2014) Cellular control of cortical actin nucleation. Curr Biol, 24:1628-1635.

Biro M, Romeo Y, Kroschwald S, Bovellan M, Boden A, Tcherkezian J, Roux PP, Charras G and Paluch EK. (2013) Cell cortex composition and homeostasis resolved by integrating proteomics and quantitative imaging. Cytoskeleton, 70:741-754.

Clark AG, Dierkes K and Paluch EK. (2013) Monitoring actin cortex thickness in live cells. Biophys J, 105:570-580.

Maître JL, Berthoumieux H, Krens G, Salbreux G, Jülicher F, Paluch E* and Heisenberg CP.* (2012) Adhesion functions in cell sorting by mechanically coupling the cortices of adhering cells. Science, 338:253-256

Bergert M, Chandradoss SD, Desai RA, Paluch E. (2012) Cell mechanics control rapid transitions between blebs and lamellipodia during migration. PNAS, 109:14434-14439.

Sedzinski J., Biro M., Oswald A., Tinevez J.Y., Salbreux G. and Paluch E. (2011) Polar acto-myosin contractility destabilises the position of the cleavage furrow during
cytokinesis. Nature, 476:462-466.

Recent reviews

Koenderink GH, Paluch EK. (2018) Architecture shapes contractility in actomyosin networks. Curr Op Cell Biol. 50:79-85.

Paluch EK, Aspalter I, Sixt M. (2016) Focal-adhesion independent cell migration. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 32:469-490.

Clark AG, Wartlick O, Salbreux G and Paluch EK. (2014) Stresses at the cell surface during animal cell morphogenesis. Curr Biol, 24:R484-494.

Currently advertising for PhD position - click here for details

Plain English

All cells, and human cells in particular, very precisely control their shape at all times. Precisely controlled cell shape changes are for instance key for tissue shaping in the developing embryo or for the migration of immune cells, which move around our body in search of pathogens. Controlling its own shape is thus very important for a cell to work properly, and losing this ability can lead to many disorders and illnesses, including cancer. Our lab is particularly interested in a part of the cell called the cortex, just under the membrane. This network of small filaments acts as a “scaffolding” for the cell and it’s also able to change its shape, making the whole cell move and deform.