Cryo-EM and AFM studies of COPII-mediated membrane remodelling

Giulia Zanetti (primary)
Biological Sciences/ISMB
Birkbeck College
Bart Hoogenboom (secondary)
London Centre for Nanotechnologies


Arguably no cell component is as important as membranes. Membranes allow compartmentalisation of tissues and cells, such that biomolecular functions can be carried out in a suitable environment. Consequently, processes that shape and remodel membranes are fundamental to biology. This PhD project will use cryo-electron tomography and atomic force microscopy to provide new insights into protein architecture and dynamics involved in membrane remodelling, with a focus on the COPII coat complex. COPII is an essential component of the secretory pathway and its malfunction is related to a number of diseases due to defects in collagen secretion and connective tissue formation.


Hutchings, J., Stancheva, V., Miller, E. A. & Zanetti, G. Subtomogram averaging of COPII assemblies reveals how coat organization dictates membrane shape. Nature Communications 9, 4154 (2018).
Hutchings, J. et al. Structure of the complete, membrane-assembled COPII coat reveals a complex interaction network. Nature Communications 12, 2034 (2021).
Hutchings, J. & Zanetti, G. Coat flexibility in the secretory pathway: a role in transport of bulky cargoes. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 59, 104–111 (2019).
Parsons, E. S. et al. Single-molecule kinetics of pore assembly by the membrane attack complex. Nature Communications 10, 2066 (2019).

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Structural Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBiophysicsImage ProcessingMathematics / StatisticsMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologyMolecular BiologySimulation / Modelling