New optogenetics paper in press

July, 1st 2019

New paper in press - "Cyclic nucleotide-specific optogenetics highlights compartimentalization of the sperm flagellum into cAMP microdomains"

Together with Andreas Möglich from the University of Bayreuth and Timo Strünker from the University of Münster, we have published a new paper in Cells. 

Here is the story:

Inside the female genital tract, mammalian sperm undergo a maturation process called capacitation, which primes the sperm to navigate across the oviduct and fertilize the egg. Sperm capacitation and motility are controlled by 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Here, we show that optogenetics, the control of cellular signaling by genetically encoded light-activated proteins, allows to manipulate cAMP dynamics in sperm flagella and, thereby, sperm capacitation and motility by light. To this end, we used sperm that express the light-activated phosphodiesterase LAPD or the photo-activated adenylate cyclase bPAC. The control of cAMP by LAPD or bPAC combined with pharmacological interventions provides spatiotemporal precision and allows to probe the physiological function of cAMP compartmentalization in mammalian sperm.

Congratulations to Diana, Jan, and Sebastian, who are shared first authors on the paper.

Jan gives a talk at the annual meeting of the SPP "Microswimmers"

Bonn, 23rd of May 2019

Jan gave a talk about the latest addition of the lab, combining SpermQ with Optogenetics.



Dagmar was invited to give a talk at the FEBS Special Meeting about Sphingolipids

The FEBS Special Meeting on Sphingolipid Biology: Sphingolipids in Physiology and Pathology took place in Cascais, Portugal from the 6-10th of May, 2019. The meeting covered topics ranging from emerging tools to study sphingolipid structure and function, to their roles in membrane organization, dynamics, signaling and metabolism. Dagmar gave a talk about the recent work from Marina, Diana, and Fabian about GBA2 and GlcCer controlling neuronal function.

Jan attended the EMBL course for RNA-sequencing analysis

08.-12.04.2019: Greetings from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Cambridge, UK. Supported by the BFB, Jan participated in a RNA-Sequence Analysis course at EBI. The workshops were hands-on and very helpful. Jan came home well-equipped for analyzing RNA-Sequencing data in the Wachten lab!

TRR83 - talk by Dagmar Wachten, Thomas Söllner and Ünal Coskun

Heidelberg, 11th April 2019

Together with Thomas Söllner (Heidelberg) and Ünal Coskun (Dresden), Dagmar presented the key aspects of the SFB/TRR83 at the lecture series "Überlebensstrategien", organized in Heidelberg. An interview with the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung can be found here.

Jan gives a talk at the DPG-Frühjahrstagung

Regensburg, 3rd of April 2019: Jan presents our recently published software SpermQ at the “DPG-Frühjahrstagung” of the “Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e.V.”, contributing with a short talk to the Focus session Physics of cilia (

Image from

Cover JBC - March 15th, 2019

Poster prizes - Fabian and Olga

March, 8th, 2019

"Poster prize at the BfB meeting"

Congratulations to Olga and Fabian, who both won a poster prize at the Annual Meeting of the Bonn Network for Life Sciences (BfB)!

February, 7th, 2019

New paper in press - "GBA2 in the nervous system: lipids and gait imbalance are intertwined"

Together with Frank Bradke from the DZNE, Thomas Berger from caesar, and Matthias Geyer and Peter Dörmann from the University of Bonn, we have published a new paper in the Journal of Biochemistry. 

Here is the story:

GBA2 is a pivotal enzyme in lipid metabolism as it regulates the degradation of glucosylceramide. Glucosylceramide is a precursor lipid for other, more complex lipids, which are involved in maintaining key cellular functions. An imbalance in the glucosylceramide lipid homeostasis causes severe diseases that commonly affect the central nervous system. Mutations in the GBA2 gene have been identified in ataxic and spastic patients suffering from autosomal-recessive cerebellar ataxia (ARCA), hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), or the Marinesco-Sjögren-like syndrome. These patients exhibit impaired locomotion and neurological abnormalities that develop early in childhood and to date are incurable.

The group of Dagmar Wachten could show that the mutations found in patients caused a loss of GBA2 function. Thus, to study the role of GBA2 in controlling locomotion, the researchers used a mouse model that lacks GBA2 (GBA2 knockout-mice) and analyzed the gait properties compared to control mice. Indeed, GBA2 knockout-mice displayed alterations in their gait pattern and some of them displayed a strong defect in locomotion. However, the phenotype did not fully resemble the human phenotype, suggesting species-specific differences in GBA2-controlled glucosylceramide metabolism.

To study the defect on a cellular level, the morphology and function of neurons was analyzed in a petri dish. Loss of GBA2 activity had a strong defect on neuronal development and morphology, in particular on the outgrowth of cellular extensions, called neurites, which are important to transmit information in the brain from one neuron to the other. This demonstrated that the lipid homeostasis is crucial for neuronal development and sheds light on how mutations in the GBA2 gene might cause locomotor dysfunction.  

Original publication:


January, 3rd, 2019

"The most important hair on your head is on the inside"

Thanks to Nathalie Jurisch-Yaksi and Emre Yaksi at the Kavli Institute in Trondheim, Norway, we could contribute to a great paper that was just published in Current Biology.

Press release see


January, 1st, 2019

"SpermQ - a simple analysis software to comprehensively study flagellar beating and sperm steering"

Happy new year! The new year starts for us with a publication in Cells.


News feed started in 2019.