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Thomas Surrey research projects

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44 Lincoln's Inn Fields
United Kingdom

Tel: 020 7269 3336
Web: Lab website

Microtubule Cytoskeleton Laboratory

Funding period: 01 January 2011 to 31 December 2015
Institute Group Award
Funding committee: Science Committee


The cytoskeleton is essential for the internal organisation of eukaryotic cells. Microtubules, motor proteins and other microtubule-associated proteins form a mechano-chemical network that determines the dynamic and adaptable nature of intracellular order. Distinct forms of cytoskeletal architectures are required for correct cell division and cell differentiation. How the components of the microtubule cytoskeleton work together as a system is not understood. 

We address these questions using a combination of physical biochemistry and quantitative cell biology. Advanced fluorescence microscopy (down to the single molecule level), in vitro reconstitutions of dynamic cytoskeleton behaviour, microfabrications, and eukaryotic cell culture are important tools in our research. 

Our aim is to understand in quantitative terms the molecular mechanisms underlying cytoskeleton function. We focus on the question of how the microtubule cytoskeleton organizes itself within the boundary of the cellular membrane and how the mitotic spindle assembles and functions during cell division. We aim at being able to predict the behaviour of the dynamic cytoskeleton based on quantitative knowledge of the properties of its constituents. 

In the future, we will address the following questions: 

  • How do single molecules of the microtubule cytoskeleton behave in living cells? 
  • Can an artificial cytoskeleton be constructed from purified components and can it inform us about complex cytoskeleton functionalities? 
  • How do biochemistry and mechanics integrate within the cytoskeleton?