Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry of the Actin Cytoskeleton

The actin cytoskeleton is an important system involved in various aspects of cell functions. The group aims understanding the molecular mechanisms of cell motility related phenomena both from a fundamental point of view as well as those related to disease states. The motility research covers both neuronal outgrowth as well as classical cell migration and cancer cell invasion.

Historically, the research was centered on understanding structure function relationships of actin and actin binding proteins. This provided a wealth of technology for investigating the biochemical properties of these proteins. In addition these data were gradually put into a cellular context. More recently we exploited a unique mouse model rendering insight in beta-actin function simultaneously paving the way towards treating the actin cytoskeleton as a system.

We exploit state of the art tools to analyze various aspects of cell migration. In this respect Prof Van Troys recently developed a (tumor) cell migration/invasion platform for higher throughput studies. This powerful platform, including imaging software, allows analyzing multiple samples in parallel (2D migration on versus 3D invasion in different matrices, various drug treatments, …) with unprecedented technical reproducibility generating statistically robust data sets.


Prof Dr Christophe Ampe (Group Leader)
Prof Dr Marleen van Troys (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Paola Masuzzo (PhD Student)
Stefano Sala (PhD Student)
Willem Vannecke (PhD Student 50 %)
Dominiek De Vleesschouwer (Master Student)
Karima Bakkali (Technician)
Davy Waterschoot (Technician)


  • Christophe Ampe is chairman of the European Cytoskeleton Forum

Selection of recent papers

  1. Anja Lambrechts, Davina Tondeleir, Matthias Müller, Veronique Jonckheere, Thierry Doll, Drieke Vandamme, Karima Bakkali, Davy Waterschoot, Marianne Lemaistre, Olivier Debeir, Christine Decaestecker, Boris Hinz, An Staes, Evy Timmerman, Niklaas Colaert, Kris Gevaert, Joël Vandekerckhove, Christophe Ampe. (2012) Cells lacking beta-actin are genetically reprogrammed but maintain conditional migratory capacity, Mol Cellular Proteomics, in press
  2. Huyck, L., C. Ampe, and M. Van Troys (2012) The XTT cell proliferation assay applied to cell layers embedded in 3D-matrix. ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies. in press.
  3. Andrea Meixner, Karsten Boldt, Marleen Van Troys, Manor Askenazi, Christian J. Gloeckner, Matthias Bauer, Jarrod A. Marto, Christophe Ampe, Norbert Kinkl and Marius Ueffing (2011) A QUICK screen for Lrrk2 interaction partners – leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 is involved in actin cytoskeleton dynamics Mol Cell Proteomics. 10
  4. Van Troys M, Huyck L, Leyman S, Dhaese S, Vandekerkhove J, Ampe C. (2008) Ins and outs of ADF/cofilin activity and regulation. Eur. J. Cell Biol. 87:649-667.
  5. Vandamme D, Rommelaere H, Lambert E, Waterschoot D, Vandekerckhove J, Constantin B, Ampe C. alpha-Skeletal muscle actin mutants causing different congenital myopathies induce similar cytoskeletal defects in cell line cultures. (2009) Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 66:179-192.
  6. Davina Tondeleir, Drieke Vandamme, Joël Vandekerckhove, Christophe Ampe and Anja Lambrechts. (2009) Actin isoform expression patterns during mammalian development and in pathology: insights from mouse models Cell Motil Cytoskeleton 66: 798-815.
  7. Stien Dhaese; Klaas Vandepoele; Davy Waterschoot; Berlinda Vanloo; Joël Vandekerckhove; Christophe Ampe; Marleen Van Troys. (2009) The Mouse Thymosin Beta15 Gene Family Displays Unique Complexity and Encodes a Functional Thymosin Repeat. J. Mol Biol. 387(4):809-25.
  8. Leyman S, Sidani M, Ritsma L, Waterschoot D, Eddy R, Dewitte D, Debeir O, Decaestecker C, Vandekerckhove J, van Rheenen J, Ampe C, Condeelis J, Van Troys M. (2009)  Unbalancing the PI(4,5)P2-cofilin interaction impairs cell steering. Mol. Biol. Cell 20, 4509-4523.
  9. Vermeulen, W., Van Troys, M., Bourry, D., Dewitte, D., Rossenu, S., Goethals, M., Borremans, F.A.M., Vandekerckhove, J., Martins, J.C. and Ampe, C. (2006) Identification of the PXW sequence as a structural gatekeeper of the headpiece c-terminal subdomain fold. J. Mol Biol., 359, 1277-1292.
  10. Lambrechts, A., Jonckheere, V., Peleman C., Polet, D., Vandekerckhove, J. and Ampe, C. (2006) The profilin I-ligand interactions influence various aspects of neuronal differentiation. J. Cell Sci., 119, 1570-1578.