The cytoskeleton plays a primary role in controlling the motility, components supply, function and shape of cells, similarly to what bone, muscles and blood vessels do in a human body. Due to their complex morphology, neuronal cells have unique cytoskeletal features, which support the functions of each subcellular compartment. My main interest is to investigate the nanoscale organization of the cytoskeleton in these different compartments with a special focus on synaptic sites and axon initial segment. I am also aiming at understanding the role of the cytoskeleton in controlling neuronal activity, excitability and cell-cell interaction. Due to the small size of the neuronal compartments studied, I use advanced optical nanoscopy techniques in combination with innovative labeling strategies for the visualization of the proteins of interest.


D'Este, E., Kamin, D., Gottfert, F., El-Hady, A. & Hell, S.W. (2015) STED nanoscopy reveals the ubiquity of subcortical cytoskeleton periodicity in living neurons. Cell Rep, 10, 1246-1251.

D'Este, E., Kamin, D., Velte, C., Gottfert, F., Simons, M. & Hell, S.W. (2016) Subcortical cytoskeleton periodicity throughout the nervous system. Sci Rep, 6, 22741.

D'Este, E., Kamin, D., Balzarotti, F. & Hell, S.W. (2017) Ultrastructural anatomy of nodes of Ranvier in the peripheral nervous system as revealed by STED microscopy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114, E191-E199.

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Department of Optical Nanoscopy

Optical microscopy facility

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