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Evolutionary principles of nuclear dynamics and remodelling

Project description

Factors determining nuclear dynamics and remodelling in eukaryotic cells

Each eukaryotic cell contains a nucleus that houses its genome. However, despite this common feature, nuclei can differ significantly in their shape, size, molecular composition, spatial organisation, and dynamics during the cell cycle. The EU-funded KaryodynEVO project will investigate the genomic, biophysical and evolutionary factors that contribute to nuclear dynamics and remodelling, also known as karyodynamics, within the context of cellular architecture and function. Employing a multidisciplinary approach, the project aims to identify universal principles of karyodynamics that are shared across species while also dissecting the reasons for the observed evolutionary and developmental plasticity. The findings will shed light on the factors that contribute to the remarkable diversity of nuclei observed across the tree of life.


Every eukaryote has a nucleus, a double lipid membrane-bound compartment that encapsulates the genome, but almost every nucleus is different - in shape, size, molecular composition, spatial organisation, and dynamics through the cell cycle. Given its fundamental and universal functional roles in protecting the DNA and regulating the exchange of information and control machinery between genome and cytoplasm, one might ask the question: why are there so many ways to build and remodel a nucleus? Bringing together comparative genomics, phylogenetics, quantitative cell biology and experimental evolution in multiple microbial model systems drawn from across the eukaryotic tree, we set out to elucidate the genomic, biophysical and evolutionary factors that determine nuclear dynamics and remodelling - karyodynamics - within the context of cellular architecture and function. A comparative perspective driven by phylogenetics will enable us to separate universal principles of karyodynamics from species- and niche-specific adaptations, and dissect the reasons for the evolutionary and developmental plasticity that we observe experimentally. In turn, we can use these principles to infer, predict and validate phenotypes in novel and emerging model systems. Finally, a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms responsible for karyodynamic phenotypic diversity would allow us to reconstruct evolutionary trajectories all the way back to the origins of the nuclear compartment, a landmark event in the evolution of eukaryotes from an archaeal-bacterial symbiosis over 2 billion years ago.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 615 930,00
Meyerhofstrasse 1
69117 Heidelberg

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Baden-Württemberg Karlsruhe Heidelberg, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 615 930,00

Beneficiaries (1)