PhasAGE – Excellence Hub on Phase Transitions in Aging and Age-Related Disorders


The PhasAGE Expert Seminars consist of a series of talks with speakers from PhasAGE partner’s institutions to promote a successful transfer of knowledge about PhasAGE topics – biomolecular phase separation, aging and age-related diseases – between the partners of the consortium.

The seminars are integrated into visiting actions between the institutions to create an interdisciplinary environment for collaborative research on biomolecular phase transitions.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the seminars scheduled until November 2021 will be exclusively online.

Upcoming seminars

More information coming soon

PAST seminars

22 April 2022 | Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde (i3S)

The seminar was co-hosted with the i3S Friday Noon Seminar Series

VIB3_Ludo Van Den Bosch-7

Liquid-liquid phase separation and stress granule dynamics in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD): challenges and future perspectives

The focus of his research is on motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well as on different neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT). The central goal of his research is to understand more in detail the mechanisms of neuronal and axonal degeneration and regeneration and to translate these discoveries into new therapeutic strategies for the different neurodegenerative disorders. Research models range from cell lines, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and small animal models including fruit fly and zebrafish to transgenic mouse models for the different neurodegenerative diseases. The main research focus is on the importance of disturbances in intracellular transport processes, including phase separation and the formation of stress granules as well as nucleocytoplasmic and axonal transport. In addition, the role of mutated proteins such as FUS and TDP-43 in these processes is investigated in detail.

Host: Sandra Ribeiro (IBMC/i3S)

3 December 2021 - 1 PM CET | Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde (i3S)

The seminar was co-hosted with the i3S Friday Noon Seminar Series.

Salvador Ventura

Natural and Synthetic Prion-like Domains: Functions and Applications

Salvador Ventura

Salvador Ventura’s lab uses a multidisciplinary approach to address fundamental aspects of protein folding, misfolding and aggregation. In addition, to define the basic mechanistic principles underlying these processes, his research team aims to understand how their deregulation leads to the onset of human conformational diseases and to develop innovative therapeutics to target these pathologies. Moreover, this knowledge allow the research team to design and produce novel and better protein-based biopharmaceuticals as well as the development of new self-assembled materials for nanotechnology applications.

Talk Summary

Amyloid fibrils are most known because of their association with disease. However, nature also exploits amyloid structures for functional purposes, and, indeed, researchers have used the unique molecular architecture of amyloids to build up different materials. Prions are a particular set of amyloids that can switch between a soluble conformation and an amyloid state. This ability usually relies on a disordered and low-complexity region known as the Prion Domain. Originally thought to be restricted to yeast, functional prion-like proteins displaying these sequences have also been identified in other organisms. Here we describe how a natural Prion-like Domain (PrLD) has evolved to substitute for the function of extracellular globular domains in bacteria and demonstrate how the particular properties of this kind of sequences can be employed to design synthetic PrLDs able to self-assemble into novel functional nanomaterials.

Host: Sandra Ribeiro (IBMC/i3S)

15 November 2021 - 3 PM CET | ONLINE EVENT

Reto Gassmann 2

Dissecting the contribution of motor-cargo adaptors to microtubule-based transport in neurons

Reto Gassmann is a group leader at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3S) in Porto interested in cell division and microtubule-based intracellular transport. His group uses live-cell fluorescence microscopy, genetics, and biochemical approaches in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and human cultured cells to study the function and regulation of cytoplasmic dynein 1, the major microtubule minus end-directed motor in animal cells.

Talk Summary

Long-rage intracellular transport of vesicles and organelles by microtubule-based motors is critical for the development, survival, and function of neurons. A central unanswered question is how the microtubule minus end-directed motor cytoplasmic dynein 1 (dynein) and plus end-directed kinesins work together to set up useful bi-directional transport systems. To gain insight into the underlying regulatory mechanismsour approach is to generate and characterize separation-of-function mutations that disrupt specific protein-protein interactions between motors and their cargo adaptors. I will present our recent work on the conserved MAP kinase scaffold JIP3, which suggests that JIP3 uses its interaction with dynein and kinesin-1 to drive bi-directional transport of endo-lysosomal organelles in C. elegans touch receptor neurons.

Chair: Valérie Bercier (VIB-KU Leuven)

14 June 2021 - 3 PM CET | ONLINE EVENT

Elsa Logarinho 2

Inhibition of age-associated genomic instability: emerging strategy to delay cellular senescence and aging

Since 2015 E. Logarinho (EL) leads the Aging & Aneuploidy group, dedicated to high-profile research on the mechanisms of cell cycle deregulation and genomic instability contributing to aging and age-related diseases. The group applies interdisciplinary approaches to address how regulated instruction of proliferative fitness and genomic stability decelerates senescence in mouse models of Down syndrome, progeria and aging. Within i3S Cancer Program, EL is tackling the question on how aging is the major risk factor for tumorigenesis, with focus on chromosomal instability and senescence. EL is currently vice-coordinator of the Cancer Program and member of the Restrictive Scientific Council. 

Talk Summary

One of the major goals of aging research is to develop strategies to delay and even reverse aging. Emerging findings indicate that genomic variations are a relevant and under-recognized mechanism underlying human aging and age-related diseases. Our group has been focused on genetic and pharmacological interventions protecting against genomic instability and addressing their impact in senescence accrual. Our recent findings will be presented.

Chairs: Javier Garcia-Pardo (UAB) and Susanna Navarro (UAB)

26 April 2021 - 3 PM CET | ONLINE EVENT

Peter Tompa

Phase Separation: an emergent function of disordered proteins

Director of VIB’s Structural Biology Research Center in Belgium. Peter is also a professor of biochemistry at the VUB (Free University Brussels), and at the Institute of Enzymology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest, Hungary).

Peter Tompa is an expert in structurally disordered proteins and phase separation research in cell physiology and disease.

Talk Summary

Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) lack a well-defined structure, yet they fulfil important functions in the cell. It was recently recognized that they can undergo physiological condensation (liquid-liquid phase separation, LLPS) leading to the formation of cellular membraneless organelles (MLOs), such as the nucleolus and stress granules. Due to its prevalence and importance in cell physiology and pathology, the mechanism of LLPS is recently under intense scrutiny. This seminar will cover key aspects of LLPS and the formation of MLOs, and highlight basic conceptual, computational and experimental challenges of this new field.

Chairs: Isabel Cardoso (IBMC/i3S) and Ana Rita Costa (IBMC/i3S)