Scientific Internship: Studying dynamic interactions of membrane proteins on a single molecule level

Date posted January 21, 2020
Type Scientific Internships

When an immune response is mounted in the human body, the message is spread quickly and with high specificity using small signaling molecules, so-called interleukines. These interleukines bind to immune cell surface receptors, generally trans-membrane proteins, which transmit the external signal to internal signaling pathways by recruiting other membrane proteins. The interaction of these membrane proteins leads to a series of molecular switches on the intracellular side, which initiates a physiological response specific to the ligand present on the outside. Conversely, the cells themselves regulate their responsiveness to certain signaling molecules by changing the amount and type of surface receptors they present.

More about the project
The goal of this project is to resolve the interaction of membrane proteins by multi-colour single-molecule imaging on living cells and in-vitro systems. In particular, we are interested in the assembly and disassembly of interleukin receptors, a class of receptors modulating the immune response. Photostability of the labels, as well as the stochastic nature of the interactions currently limit the applicability of single-molecule tracking for the study of protein-protein interactions. As an intern in the Physics of Cellular Interactions group headed by Dr. Kristina Ganzinger, you will conduct experiments on the diffusion and interactions of interleukin membrane receptors and advance the technical implementation using a novel labelling approach.

About the group

Our group focuses specifically on processes that are critical to the immune system. Inspired by previous research projects that have shown the importance of spatiotemporal constraints for T cell activation (Nat Immun 2016), we investigate the interplay of membrane topography and signaling. This means exploring how cells shape their membranes not only in response to signals, but also to detect and discriminate them. We address these questions mainly by reconstituting signaling processes in model-membrane systems (“artificial cells”). By combining this synthetic biology approach with tools from single-molecule biophysics and microfabrication (JACS 2013, PloS One 2013, Nat Comm 2018), we can study signaling in isolation from cellular cross-talk.


  • You already have a Bachelor’s degree in physics, biochemistry or molecular biology and now participate in a Master study in one of these areas.
  • Some experience with wet-lab work, cell culture and/or fluorescence microscopy would be an advantage.
  • You should like the idea of working in a collaborative, ambitious and international environment.
  • Formalities: the internship has to be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EEA-member state and/or you are a student at a Netherlands University. You must be available for at least 5 months but this project would be ideal for a Master’s thesis.
  • Ideal starting time would be April 2020

Terms of employment

In the beginning of your placement, along with your supervisor at AMOLF, you will make a step-by-step plan in which working conditions and supervision will be agreed on.

Contact info

Kristina Ganzinger
Group leader Physics of Cellular Interactions
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
–  Resume;
–  List of followed courses plus grades.
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page).

It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

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