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Molecular Cell Biology

Studying cellular organelles

Research in the Molecular Cell Biology group is focussed on the study of cellular compartments, referred to as organelles, with particular emphasis on peroxisomes. These ubiquitous organelles perform vital roles in the cell, a fact that is stressed by the lethal diseases that stem from peroxisome deficiencies. Additionally, malfunctioning peroxisomes contribute to the ageing process. Peroxisomes provide compartments in the cell to house enzymes involved in hydrogen peroxide metabolism and fatty acid oxidation. However, depending on the organism under observation, developmental stage and cell type, a large number of other metabolic and biosynthetic pathways can be found in peroxisomes. Our research on peroxisomes is multi-disciplinary, combining molecular, biochemical and physiological approaches, together with the use of various (sub) structural techniques such as electron microscopy and tomography, fluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy.

Yeast as model organism

We use baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and the methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polymorpha as model organisms to study peroxisomes at the molecular level. Yeasts are ideal models for peroxisome research because they are easy to cultivate and readily accessible to advanced molecular, biochemical and ultrastructural methods. Furthermore, manipulating the growth conditions of yeast readily allows peroxisome function to be modulated. Relative to S. cerevisiae, the yeast H. polymorpha has the additional advantage that the morphological and biochemical events accompanying peroxisome proliferation and degradation are much more pronounced. For both model systems, all the necessary tools to perform detailed molecular studies are available (including the sequence of the genomes, allowing performing “omics” approaches).


Current research topics include:

The formation of peroxisomes

Peroxisomal division and proliferation

The role of peroxisomes in ageing

Last modified:18 May 2018 12.14 p.m.