ESCRT-mediated membrane remodeling

Biological motivation

The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery is an evolutionarily conserved protein complex required to all processes involving membrane budding and fission away from the cytosol. It is key to a number of relevant cellular processes, like cell division, HIV budding or cell-to-cell communication. ESCRT participates in so many aspects of our life that its dysfunction is associated to the development of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Despite its importance, we know very little about how ESCRT works, in practice.

Our research

ESCRT-III is the protein subcomplex that mainly contributes to membrane remodeling and consists of flexible, helical polymers. In vitro experiments performed by our collaborators show how ESCRT-III polymers remodel membrane vesicles into stable, tubular structures. Interpreting the unusual geometrical features of such membrane-polymer tubular phases allows us to infer the elastic properties of ESCRT-III filaments [1] and elucidate how their spatial distribution depends on local membrane curvature [2].

Experimental collaborators

J Moser von Filseck and A Roux
University of Geneva

N Talledge, I Johnson and A Frost
University of California San Francisco


Anisotropic ESCRT-III architecture governs helical membrane tube formation
J Moser von Filseck, L Barberi *, N Talledge, I Johnson, A Frost, M Lenz, A Roux *
Nature Communications (2020)
* = co-corresponding