Van Amerongen Lab     -      Developmental & Cancer Biology

Section of Molecular Cytology    -     Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences    -     University of Amsterdam  
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Essay on the contributions of Roel Nusse to the Wnt signaling field

Today it was announced that Roel Nusse is one of the winners of the 2020 Gairdner Award. In honor of his contributions to the field of Wnt signaling and its broader implications in cancer and stem cell biology, Renée wrote an invited essay for Cell.
Thanks to Tanne for designing the figure!

The piece is available as Open Access publication here and can also be downloaded as a PDF file here.

31 March, 2020

NWO Grant awarded

Renée was awarded a Klein1 grant in the NWO open competition. Using a combination of quantitative live cell imaging and fluorescent tagging of endogenous Wnt pathway components, we hope to achieve a better understanding of the central working mechanism of the WNT/CTNNB1 pathway.

This is the first funding we got for this new line of research in the lab, thanks in large part to all of the preliminary data that were carefully collected by Saskia over the past few years, in close collaboration with Mark Hink.

See the Dutch abstract below from the NWO website:.

26 March, 2020

Short review on WNT/CTNNB1 signaling in breast cancer

We published a short review article on the role of WNT/CTNNB1 signaling in human breast cancer in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, as part of the special topic on mammary gland biology (edited by Dr. Zuzana Koledova from Masryk University).

The review article was inspired by and based on an MSc literature thesis, written by Emma van Schie (who is first author on the paper). The best outcome of research based teaching! It also helped Renée organize her thoughts on the current knowledge gaps in the field.

2 February, 2020

First publication of 2020

We published our first paper in 2020! Previously out as a pre-print on BioRxiv we are happy that our study about the interaction between TMEM98 and FRAT2 found a peer-reviewed home in Plos One.

First author Tanne van der Wal just started her PhD in October, and this is earlier work from her BSc internship. Taking old data from Renée that had been accumulating since 2004, we wrapped up the characterization of the trafficking of this transmembrane protein and verified that 15 years after the start of this project across town at the Netherlands Cancer Institute this transmembrane protein still modulates FRAT2 protein levels, thereby reducing WNT/CTNNB1 signaling activity.

It was a nice bonus to see Figure 2 from the paper being highlighted on Twitter for #FluorescenceFriday.

24 January, 2020

Lecture about genome editing

On Monday evening 13 January, Renée gave a lecture for members and guests of the "Chemische Kring" (society of chemists) in Rotterdam about the ins and outs of gene editing. The lecture hall at the "Hogeschool Rotterdam" was filled with an exciting mixture of chemists, biologists (including some students who came to attend after working with CRISPR/Cas in the lab themselves) and the occasional philosopher.

We talked about bacterial immune systems, CRISPR babies and the history of cutting and pasting with DNA. Hopefully there was enough depth for the chemists and not too much detail for the less molecularly inclined!

13 January, 2020

NEMO Kinderlezing

Renee gave the last NEMO Kinderlezing of 2019 . This time the topic was aging. A lot of 8-12 year olds came to the NEMO Studio Theater and together we went searching for an answer to the question: "How old can I get?"

That took us on a journey deep inside our bodies, where we peaked into the cells to figure out how cells know what to do, to see how the DNA and mitochondria work, and to discover how little mistakes and malfunctions in these microscopically small components contribute to aging. We also talked about extending life span, and how new techniques like cutting-and-repairing our DNA might one day prevent us from getting old or sick.
But this crowd was not fooled very easily and the morning lecture essentially ended with a philosophical question from one of the younger kids: Why do we want to live forever? Can we just not accept the fact that life has an end to it? This was followed by a sobering conclusion from the first row that even if we were able to extend life into all eternity, the universe itself has a final lifespan. On that note, we all had a look at some cells under the microscope and went home. A little bit older, but also a little bit wiser.

Thanks to all the kids for asking such interesting questions, for offering your perspective and for making me need all of my science fiction and space knowledge to keep up with you! And of course thanks to everyone at NEMO and FNWI communication for the awesome help in prepping for this audience.

image credit: Marion Vetter

15 December, 2019

ENBDC Think Tank in Manchester

Renee travelled to Manchester, where she met up with the rest of the ENBDC organizing committee for a peptide hydrogel workshop (thanks to everyone involved!) and a full day talking about research gaps in breast (cancer) biology.

image credit: Leander Blaas (via Twitter).

Thank you to Rob Clarke for running such an entertaining and smoothly organized Think Tank and for taking us out to dinner in a former cotton exchange on the UK election evening to drown any Brexit-related sorrow in good conversation.

12 December, 2019

Seminar in Aberdeen

Renee gave a talk at the University of Aberdeen, the third oldest university in Scotland. She got to talk about science with loads of different and interesting people all day, which is always a bonus. Thank you to Stefan Hoppler for the invitation and for making this such an enjoyable visit, including the sampling of the local pub food and Indian cuisine!

28 November, 2019

Master class for artists and designers

Renee gave a masterclass for artists and designers at Filip Studios in Arnhem on pattern formation in biology and the molecular processes that normally take place unseen inside our cells.
It was good to meet up with Roos Meerman again, with whom the lab previously collaborated as part of the BioArt and Design Award competition. Thanks also to Sabine Winters for organizing this residency program and for the invitation!

12 November, 2019

Seminar by Jeroen van Zon

Jeroen van Zon, group leader on Quantitative Developmental Biology at AMOLF, visited us from just across the street to give a talk about his work on worms and intestinal organoids. A great example of how biology and physics can be combined to yield new insights about how cell division and differentiation are controlled to guide the development and maintenance of complex animal tissues.

8 November, 2019

Nika presents our work in Chicago

Nika presented her work at the Cell Symposium on Transcriptional Regulation in Evolution, Development and Disease in Chicago. She got good feedback on her work on Wnt gene regulation (a joint effort with Katrin and Yorick), which means that now it is on to writing the PhD thesis!

20 October, 2019

Keynote lecture at the Finnish Developmental Biology Society and Stem Cell Network meeting

Renee gave a keynote lecture at the Finnish Developmental Biology Society and Stem Cell Network during their annual retreat just outside of Helsinki. The awesome opening keynote by Josh Brickman was a tough act to follow... It was great to interact and hang out with so many stem cell and developmental biology aficionados for a couple of days. Very impressed by the cool science that is going on in Finland!

Thanks to Marja Mikkola, who turned out to be an excellent tour guide in addition to a developmental biologist, Renee also caught a glimpse of Helsinki on Saturday.

11 October, 2019

Outreach lecture

High school teachers and their students visited the University of Amsterdam for lectures and a behind-the-scenes tour of some of our labs and facilities. Renée gave a talk on the basic science behind stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

2 October, 2019

Tanne has joined the lab as a new PhD student

On 1 October Tanne van der Wal started her PhD thesis research in the group. She will be dissecting the molecular mechanisms of WNT/CTNNB1 signaling using CRISPR/Cas9 mediated tagging and functional imaging.

1 October, 2019

Poster prize for Saskia de Man at the 2019 GRC on Wnt signalling

Saskia and Renée attended the 2019 GRC on Wnt signaling in Vermont.

Preceding the GRC, Saskia attended the GRS, where she chaired one of the sessions. Renée also chaired a session at the GRC, organised the power hour and gave a talk highlighting the lab’s ongoing work on Wnt gene regulation and functional imaging of Wnt signal transduction. Saskia presented her work in one of the GRC poster sessions and, as icing on the cake, won one of the poster prizes.

Saskia receives one of the poster prizes. photo credit: Arial Zeng

It was a great and interactive meeting and we return to the lab invigorated with lots of great feedback and new ideas.
The next Wnt meeting will take place in September 2020 in Japan. The Wnt meeting will return as a GRC meeting in 2021 and 2023 (location to be announced) and rumor has it that the 2022 Wnt meeting may be held in China or Singapore.

16 August, 2019

Veni grant for Katrin Wiese

We are very excited to announce that Katrin Wiese was awarded a Veni grant from NWO (the Dutch Science Foundation). This competitive personal grant allows Katrin to further develop her ideas on Wnt gene regulation and to zoom in on the molecular processes involved for the coming three years.

Congratulations Katrin!

15 July, 2019

Lab lunch

The Bsc students are wrapping up their internships, so the lab went for lunch at De Polder. Goodbye Beau, Delano and Kyah. Thanks for all your hard work and contributions and good luck in your future endeavors!

10 July, 2019

Travel grants for Nika Heijmans and Saskia de Man

Both Nika Heijmans and Saskia de Man were awarded travel grants from the Amsterdams Universiteitsfonds and the Genootschap ter Bevordering van Natuur-, Genees- en Heelkunde.
Thanks to these grants, Nika will be able to present her PhD work at the Cell Symposium on Transcriptional Regulation in Evolution, Development and Disease in Chicago in October and Saskia will present her PhD project at the 2019 GRS and GRC on Wnt signaling in Vermont in August.

1 July, 2019

Seminar in Leuven

Renée visited the Stem Cell Institute in Leuven, Belgium. She gave a talk and spent the entire day talking about science with PhD students, postdocs and group leaders.
Thank you to Willy Antoni Abreu De Oliveira and Frederic Lluis for the invitation and for organising such a great visit.

27 May, 2019

11th ENBDC workshop on mammary gland biology and breast cancer

Renée travelled to Switzerland for the 11th annual meeting of ENBDC members. This also served as an annual reminder for the lab group picture (see icon on the left and the full size image as part of the time capsule on our alumni page).

Zuzana Koledova organized and chaired a fantastic Weggis meeting. Renée presented a poster and also enjoyed the group hike up a very sunny mount Rigi.

17 May, 2019

5 year Wntlab anniversary

We celebrated the 5 year anniversary of the Wntlab by hosting our first reunion for alumni. It was really good to see so many of our former BSc and MSc students return to Science Park and to hear about their diverse and exciting career steps.

10 May, 2019

The blues

Anoeska brought cake to celebrate the first glimpse of a signal in our new mTurquoise reporter. This is the first mouse strain in the lab generated by CRISPR/Cas9 editing (a collaboration with Ivo Huijbers and Lona Kroese at the Netherlands Cancer Institute).

15 April, 2019

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