Self-organization of the Cell

Despite their small size, bacteria show a high degree of internal organization. While many of the individual players that determine intracellular order are known, how they work together to organize the cell is not understood.

Our research goal is to understand the mechanisms of intracellular self-organization by rebuilding cellular functions from purified components. We combine biochemical reconstitution experiments with advanced fluorescence microscopy (down to the single molecule level) and quantitative analysis to answer the following questions: What are the biochemical networks that determine intracellular organization? How do proteins of the bacterial cytoskeleton organize into dynamic, large-scale structures? And how did biochemical networks change during evolution?

Our aim is to find general principles underlying protein self-organisation, currently we are focusing on protein systems from prokaryotic cells.


Martin Loose
Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A – 3400 Klosterneuburg

CV and Publication List

Martin Loose's website

Rita Six

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1165


  • Natalia Baranova, Postdoc
  • Urban Bezeljak, PhD Student
  • Paulo Dos Santos Caldas, PhD Student
  • Christian Düllberg, Postdoc
  • Maria del Mar Lopez Pelegrin, Technician
  • Christine Miek, Postdoc

Selected Publications

  • Loose M, Mitchison TJ. (2014) The bacterial cell division proteins FtsA and FtsZ self-organize into dynamic cytoskeletal patterns, Nat Cell Biol 16, 38–46.
  • Bonny M, Fischer-Friedrich E, Loose M, Schwille P, Kruse K. (2013) Membrane Binding of MinE Allows for a Comprehensive Description of Min-Protein Pattern Formation, PLoS Comp Biol 9, e1003347.
  • Schweizer* J., Loose* M. et al. (2012) Geometry sensing by self-organized protein patterns, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 15283–15288. *equal contribution.
  • Loose M, Fischer-Friedrich E, Herold C, Kruse K, Schwille P. (2011) Min protein patterns emerge from rapid rebinding and membrane interaction of MinE, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 18, 577–583.
  • Loose M, Kruse K, Schwille P. (2011) Protein Self-Organization: Lessons from the Min System, Annual Review of Biophysics 40, 315–336.
  • Dinarina A*, Pugieux C*, Mora Corral M, Loose M, et al. (2009) Chromatin shapes the mitotic spindle, Cell 138, 502–513. *equal contribution.
  • Loose M, Fischer-Friedrich E, Ries J, Kruse K, Schwille P. (2008) Spatial regulators for bacterial cell division self-organize into surface waves in vitro, Science 320, 789–792.


As of 2015 Assistant Professor, IST Austria

2011-2014 Departmental fellow, Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
2010-2011 Postdoc, TU Dresden and MPI-CBG, Dresden, Germany
2010 PhD, TU Dresden and MPI-CBG, Dresden, Germany

Selected Distinctions

2012-2014 HSFP Long-Term fellowship
2011-2012 EMBO Long-Term fellowship
2010 Dr.-Walter-Seipp-Award for best dissertation at TU Dresden
2001-2009 Student and PhD Fellowship of the German National Scholarship Foundation (‘Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes’)