Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelberg

Seminar Biophysics of sensing and signaling

This seminar is jointly organized by Victor Sourjik (biology, ZMBH and Bioquant) and Ulrich Schwarz (physics, ITP and Bioquant). In our Vorbesprechung on October 12, 5 pm in seminar room 44 in the Bioquant, we did explain and distribute the possible subjects to the participants, see below. We then decided on a schedule which is also given below. The required material can be downloaded through the electronic learning platform.

In this seminar we will discuss the biophysical aspects of signal reception and processing in different biological systems. To which accuracy can a signal (eg a chemotactic gradient or the mechanical stiffness of the environment) be detected by a cell or an organism ? How are receptor signals processed and amplified inside the cell ? How is signal perception being modulated by external and internal fluctuations which are inevitable in molecular systems ? The most important prokaryotic model system for chemotaxis is E. Coli. Important eukaryotic model systems for chemotaxis are dictyostelium and neutrophils. Stiffness sensing is used by most tissue cells, including mesenchymal stem cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and neurons.

This seminar is targeted at biology and physics bachelor students with an interest in interdisciplinary approaches. Subjects for talks will be based on textbook knowledge (see literature hints below) combined with recent advances taken from the original research literature.

Material zur Vorlesung


  • Howard Berg, Random walks in biology, Princeton University Press 1993
  • Doug Lauffenburger and Jennifer Lindermann, Receptors: models for binding, trafficking, and signaling, Oxford University Press 1996
  • Rob Phillips, Jane Kondev and Julie Theriot, Physical biology of the cell, Garland Sciences 2009
  • Edda Klipp et al., Systems biology: a textbook, Wiley-VCH 2009

Interesting links

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