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Torsten Wittmann, PhD

Title(s)Professor, Cell and Tissue Biology
SchoolSchool of Dentistry
Address513 Parnassus Ave, HSW
San Francisco CA 94143
Phone415-476-3037
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    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse Education and Training
    University of Basel, SwitzerlandM.S.1994
    EMBL Heidelberg, GermanyPh.D.1999
    The Scripps Research InstitutePostdoc2005

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    Modern molecular biology presents us with a growing list of molecules that build a living cell. However, how the diverse activities of these molecules are coordinated in space and time to generate functional cell biology is an increasingly complex and essentially unresolved question. My research program focuses on the microtubule cytoskeleton, a highly dynamic filament system inside cells that is critically important to spatially and temporally organize eukaryotic cells during cell migration, division and differentiation. One of my long-term scientific goals is to elucidate molecular mechanisms by which local control of the MT cytoskeleton guides complex cell behaviors, and we are particularly interested in the function of protein complexes at growing microtubule ends. Addressing questions on local dynamic processes in cells also requires novel experimental approaches, and to achieve this goal we are employing advanced quantitative live cell microscopy combined with ‘opto-cell biology’ that we define as synthetic light-control of cellular protein activity with high spatial and temporal precision.

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Probing Microtubule Function in Neuronal Development
    NIH/NINDS R01NS107480Jun 15, 2018 - Feb 28, 2023
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Dissecting protein activities by reversible photo-inactivation
    NIH/NCI R21CA224194Jun 10, 2017 - May 31, 2019
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Light-activated proteolysis as a tool to analyze intracellular protein function
    NIH/NIGMS R01GM094819Sep 1, 2010 - Aug 31, 2014
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Spinning disk confocal / FRAP microscope for quantitative live cell imaging
    NIH/NCRR S10RR026758May 27, 2010 - May 26, 2011
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Microtubule dynamics during cell polarity and migration
    NIH/NIGMS R01GM079139May 1, 2008 - Dec 31, 2017
    Role: Principal Investigator

    Collapse ORNG Applications 
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    Collapse In The News
    Collapse Academic Senate

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Neurotoxic microglia promote TDP-43 proteinopathy in progranulin deficiency. Nature. 2020 Aug 31. Zhang J, Velmeshev D, Hashimoto K, Huang YH, Hofmann JW, Shi X, Chen J, Leidal AM, Dishart JG, Cahill MK, Kelley KW, Liddelow SA, Seeley WW, Miller BL, Walther TC, Farese RV, Taylor JP, Ullian EM, Huang B, Debnath J, Wittmann T, Kriegstein AR, Huang EJ. PMID: 32866962.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    2. Lights, cytoskeleton, action: Optogenetic control of cell dynamics. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2020 May 01; 66:1-10. Wittmann T, Dema A, van Haren J. PMID: 32371345.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    3. Filament assembly by the liver phosphofructokinase-1, the “gatekeeper” of glycolysis. The FASEB Journal. 2020 Apr 1; 34(S1):1-1. Bradley Webb, Anne Dosey, Torsten Wittmann, Justin Kollmann, Diane Barber. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    4. Optogenetic Control of Microtubule Dynamics. Methods Mol Biol. 2020; 2101:211-234. van Haren J, Adachi LS, Wittmann T. PMID: 31879907.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    
    5. Tau repeat regions contain conserved histidine residues that modulate microtubule-binding in response to changes in pH. J Biol Chem. 2019 05 31; 294(22):8779-8790. Charafeddine RA, Cortopassi WA, Lak P, Tan R, McKenney RJ, Jacobson MP, Barber DL, Wittmann T. PMID: 30992364.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    6. Microtubule Plus End Dynamics - Do We Know How Microtubules Grow?: Cells boost microtubule growth by promoting distinct structural transitions at growing microtubule ends. Bioessays. 2019 03; 41(3):e1800194. van Haren J, Wittmann T. PMID: 30730055.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    7. Conserved tau microtubule-binding repeat histidines confer pH-dependent tau-microtubule association. bioRxiv. 2018 Dec 4; 486688. Rabab A Charafeddine, Wilian A Cortopassi, Parnian Lak, Matthew P Jacobson, Diane L Barber, Torsten Wittmann. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    8. Optical Control of EB1 Reveals Local Functions of the Microtubule +TIP Complex During Cell Migration and Division. Biophysical Journal. 2018 Feb 1; 114(3):382a. Jeffrey van Haren, Rabab Charafeddine, Andreas Ettinger, Hui Wang, Klaus M. Hahn, Torsten Wittmann. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    9. The Glycolytic Enzyme Phosphofructokinase-1 Assembles into Filaments. Biophysical Journal. 2018 Feb 1; 114(3):228a. Bradley Webb, Annie Dosey, Torsten Wittmann, Justin Kollman, Diane Barber. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    10. Local control of intracellular microtubule dynamics by EB1 photodissociation. Nat Cell Biol. 2018 03; 20(3):252-261. van Haren J, Charafeddine RA, Ettinger A, Wang H, Hahn KM, Wittmann T. PMID: 29379139.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    11. The glycolytic enzyme phosphofructokinase-1 assembles into filaments. J Cell Biol. 2017 08 07; 216(8):2305-2313. Webb BA, Dosey AM, Wittmann T, Kollman JM, Barber DL. PMID: 28646105.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    12. GSK3-mediated CLASP2 phosphorylation modulates kinetochore dynamics. J Cell Sci. 2017 04 15; 130(8):1404-1412. Pemble H, Kumar P, van Haren J, Wittmann T. PMID: 28232523.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    13. Autophagy in adhesion and migration. J Cell Sci. 2016 10 15; 129(20):3685-3693. Kenific CM, Wittmann T, Debnath J. PMID: 27672021.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 14     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    14. Doublecortin Is Excluded from Growing Microtubule Ends and Recognizes the GDP-Microtubule Lattice. Curr Biol. 2016 06 20; 26(12):1549-1555. Ettinger A, van Haren J, Ribeiro SA, Wittmann T. PMID: 27238282.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 11     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    15. NBR1 enables autophagy-dependent focal adhesion turnover. J Cell Biol. 2016 Feb 29; 212(5):577-90. Kenific CM, Stehbens SJ, Goldsmith J, Leidal AM, Faure N, Ye J, Wittmann T, Debnath J. PMID: 26903539.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    16. Migration of Founder Epithelial Cells Drives Proper Molar Tooth Positioning and Morphogenesis. Dev Cell. 2015 Dec 21; 35(6):713-24. Prochazka J, Prochazkova M, Du W, Spoutil F, Tureckova J, Hoch R, Shimogori T, Sedlacek R, Rubenstein JL, Wittmann T, Klein OD. PMID: 26702830.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    17. Enzymatically Generated CRISPR Libraries for Genome Labeling and Screening. Dev Cell. 2015 Aug 10; 34(3):373-8. Lane AB, Strzelecka M, Ettinger A, Grenfell AW, Wittmann T, Heald R. PMID: 26212133.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 14     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clustering is regulated both by glycogen synthase kinase 3ß (GSK3ß)-dependent phosphorylation and the level of CLIP-associated protein 2 (CLASP2) mediating the capture of microtubule plus-ends. J Biol Chem. 2014 Oct 31; 289(44):30857-67. Basu S, Sladecek S, Pemble H, Wittmann T, Slotman JA, van Cappellen W, Brenner HR, Galjart N. PMID: 25231989.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    19. Neuronal deletion of GSK3ß increases microtubule speed in the growth cone and enhances axon regeneration via CRMP-2 and independently of MAP1B and CLASP2. BMC Biol. 2014 Jun 12; 12:47. Liz MA, Mar FM, Santos TE, Pimentel HI, Marques AM, Morgado MM, Vieira S, Sousa VF, Pemble H, Wittmann T, Sutherland C, Woodgett JR, Sousa MM. PMID: 24923837.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    20. CLASPs link focal-adhesion-associated microtubule capture to localized exocytosis and adhesion site turnover. Nat Cell Biol. 2014 Jun; 16(6):561-73. Stehbens SJ, Paszek M, Pemble H, Ettinger A, Gierke S, Wittmann T. PMID: 24859005.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 68     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    21. Host cell polarity proteins participate in innate immunity to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Cell Host Microbe. 2014 May 14; 15(5):636-43. Tran CS, Eran Y, Ruch TR, Bryant DM, Datta A, Brakeman P, Kierbel A, Wittmann T, Metzger RJ, Mostov KE, Engel JN. PMID: 24832456.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 15     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    22. Expression of an expanded CGG-repeat RNA in a single pair of primary sensory neurons impairs olfactory adaptation in Caenorhabditis elegans. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Sep 15; 23(18):4945-59. Juang BT, Ludwig AL, Benedetti KL, Gu C, Collins K, Morales C, Asundi A, Wittmann T, L'Etoile N, Hagerman PJ. PMID: 24821701.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    23. Concepts in quantitative fluorescence microscopy. Methods Cell Biol. 2014; 123:1-18. Waters JC, Wittmann T. PMID: 24974019.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    24. Analysis of focal adhesion turnover: a quantitative live-cell imaging example. Methods Cell Biol. 2014; 123:335-46. Stehbens SJ, Wittmann T. PMID: 24974036.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    25. Quantitative imaging in cell biology. Preface. Methods Cell Biol. 2014; 123:xix-xx. Waters JC, Wittmann T. PMID: 24974047.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    26. Fluorescence live cell imaging. Methods Cell Biol. 2014; 123:77-94. Ettinger A, Wittmann T. PMID: 24974023.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 27     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    27. Light-Modulated Cell Adhesion to Control Cell and Tissue Morphogenesis. Biophysical Journal. 2014 Jan 1; 106(2):789a. Jeffrey van Haren, Torsten Wittmann. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    28. LIS1 controls mitosis and mitotic spindle organization via the LIS1-NDEL1-dynein complex. Hum Mol Genet. 2014 Jan 15; 23(2):449-66. Moon HM, Youn YH, Pemble H, Yingling J, Wittmann T, Wynshaw-Boris A. PMID: 24030547.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    29. Host microtubule plus-end binding protein CLASP1 influences sequential steps in the Trypanosoma cruzi infection process. Cell Microbiol. 2013 Apr; 15(4):571-84. Zhao X, Kumar P, Shah-Simpson S, Caradonna KL, Galjart N, Teygong C, Blader I, Wittmann T, Burleigh BA. PMID: 23107073.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    30. Microtubule dynamics regulation contributes to endothelial morphogenesis. Bioarchitecture. 2012 Nov-Dec; 2(6):220-7. Lyle KS, Corleto JA, Wittmann T. PMID: 23267416.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    31. Targeting and transport: how microtubules control focal adhesion dynamics. J Cell Biol. 2012 Aug 20; 198(4):481-9. Stehbens S, Wittmann T. PMID: 22908306.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 77     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    32. +TIPs: SxIPping along microtubule ends. Trends Cell Biol. 2012 Aug; 22(8):418-28. Kumar P, Wittmann T. PMID: 22748381.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 57     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    33. EB1-recruited microtubule +TIP complexes coordinate protrusion dynamics during 3D epithelial remodeling. Curr Biol. 2012 May 08; 22(9):753-62. Gierke S, Wittmann T. PMID: 22483942.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 26     Fields:    
    34. Multisite phosphorylation disrupts arginine-glutamate salt bridge networks required for binding of cytoplasmic linker-associated protein 2 (CLASP2) to end-binding protein 1 (EB1). J Biol Chem. 2012 May 18; 287(21):17050-64. Kumar P, Chimenti MS, Pemble H, Schönichen A, Thompson O, Jacobson MP, Wittmann T. PMID: 22467876.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 36     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    35. Imaging intracellular protein dynamics by spinning disk confocal microscopy. Methods Enzymol. 2012; 504:293-313. Stehbens S, Pemble H, Murrow L, Wittmann T. PMID: 22264541.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 22     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    36. Dynamic actin remodeling during epithelial-mesenchymal transition depends on increased moesin expression. Mol Biol Cell. 2011 Dec; 22(24):4750-64. Haynes J, Srivastava J, Madson N, Wittmann T, Barber DL. PMID: 22031288.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 72     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    37. Chlamydia trachomatis co-opts GBF1 and CERT to acquire host sphingomyelin for distinct roles during intracellular development. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Sep; 7(9):e1002198. Elwell CA, Jiang S, Kim JH, Lee A, Wittmann T, Hanada K, Melancon P, Engel JN. PMID: 21909260.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 72     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    38. Analysis of microtubule dynamic instability using a plus-end growth marker. Nat Methods. 2010 Sep; 7(9):761-8. Matov A, Applegate K, Kumar P, Thoma C, Krek W, Danuser G, Wittmann T. PMID: 20729842.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 83     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    39. Analysis of microtubule polymerization dynamics in live cells. Methods Cell Biol. 2010; 97:15-33. Gierke S, Kumar P, Wittmann T. PMID: 20719263.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 8     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    40. GSK3beta phosphorylation modulates CLASP-microtubule association and lamella microtubule attachment. J Cell Biol. 2009 Mar 23; 184(6):895-908. Kumar P, Lyle KS, Gierke S, Matov A, Danuser G, Wittmann T. PMID: 19289791.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 88     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    41. SnapShot: Microtubule regulators II. Cell. 2009 Feb 06; 136(3):566, 566.e1. Lyle K, Kumar P, Wittmann T. PMID: 19203588.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    42. SnapShot: Microtubule Regulators I. Cell. 2009 Jan 23; 136(2):380, 380.e1. Lyle K, Kumar P, Wittmann T. PMID: 19167337.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    43. EBs clip CLIPs to growing microtubule ends. J Cell Biol. 2008 Dec 29; 183(7):1183-5. Wittmann T. PMID: 19103811.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    44. Cofilin activity downstream of Pak1 regulates cell protrusion efficiency by organizing lamellipodium and lamella actin networks. Dev Cell. 2007 Nov; 13(5):646-62. Delorme V, Machacek M, DerMardirossian C, Anderson KL, Wittmann T, Hanein D, Waterman-Storer C, Danuser G, Bokoch GM. PMID: 17981134.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 81     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    45. Adenomatous polyposis coli on microtubule plus ends in cell extensions can promote microtubule net growth with or without EB1. Mol Biol Cell. 2006 May; 17(5):2331-45. Kita K, Wittmann T, Näthke IS, Waterman-Storer CM. PMID: 16525027.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 42     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    46. Correction. The Journal of Cell Biology. 2005 Oct 24; 171(2):393-393. Torsten Wittmann, Clare M. Waterman-Storer. .
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    47. Spatial regulation of CLASP affinity for microtubules by Rac1 and GSK3beta in migrating epithelial cells. J Cell Biol. 2005 Jun 20; 169(6):929-39. Wittmann T, Waterman-Storer CM. PMID: 15955847.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 87     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    48. Microtubule cytoskeleton: a new twist at the end. Curr Biol. 2005 Feb 22; 15(4):R126-9. Wittmann T, Desai A. PMID: 15723782.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    49. Eg5 causes elongation of meiotic spindles when flux-associated microtubule depolymerization is blocked. Curr Biol. 2004 Nov 09; 14(21):1941-5. Shirasu-Hiza M, Perlman ZE, Wittmann T, Karsenti E, Mitchison TJ. PMID: 15530396.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 21     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    50. Characterization of the TPX2 domains involved in microtubule nucleation and spindle assembly in Xenopus egg extracts. Mol Biol Cell. 2004 Dec; 15(12):5318-28. Brunet S, Sardon T, Zimmerman T, Wittmann T, Pepperkok R, Karsenti E, Vernos I. PMID: 15385625.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 40     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    51. Regulation of Microtubule Dynamics in Migrating Cells: A New Role for Rho GTPases. Cell Motility. 2004 Jan 29; 203-217. Torsten Wittmann, Clare M. Waterman-Storer. .
      View in: Publisher Site   Mentions:
    52. Regulation of microtubule destabilizing activity of Op18/stathmin downstream of Rac1. J Biol Chem. 2004 Feb 13; 279(7):6196-203. Wittmann T, Bokoch GM, Waterman-Storer CM. PMID: 14645234.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 92     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    53. Regulation of leading edge microtubule and actin dynamics downstream of Rac1. J Cell Biol. 2003 Jun 09; 161(5):845-51. Wittmann T, Bokoch GM, Waterman-Storer CM. PMID: 12796474.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 93     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    54. A high-speed multispectral spinning-disk confocal microscope system for fluorescent speckle microscopy of living cells. Methods. 2003 Jan; 29(1):29-41. Adams MC, Salmon WC, Gupton SL, Cohan CS, Wittmann T, Prigozhina N, Waterman-Storer CM. PMID: 12543069.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 21     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    55. Toward reconstitution of in vivo microtubule dynamics in vitro. Bioessays. 2002 Apr; 24(4):305-7. Andersen SS, Wittmann T. PMID: 11948616.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    56. Cell motility: can Rho GTPases and microtubules point the way? J Cell Sci. 2001 Nov; 114(Pt 21):3795-803. Wittmann T, Waterman-Storer CM. PMID: 11719546.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 147     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    57. The spindle: a dynamic assembly of microtubules and motors. Nat Cell Biol. 2001 Jan; 3(1):E28-34. Wittmann T, Hyman A, Desai A. PMID: 11146647.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 142     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    58. TPX2, A novel xenopus MAP involved in spindle pole organization. J Cell Biol. 2000 Jun 26; 149(7):1405-18. Wittmann T, Wilm M, Karsenti E, Vernos I. PMID: 10871281.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 142     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    59. Motor proteins regulate force interactions between microtubules and microfilaments in the axon. Nat Cell Biol. 2000 May; 2(5):276-80. Ahmad FJ, Hughey J, Wittmann T, Hyman A, Greaser M, Baas PW. PMID: 10806478.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 53     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    60. Recombinant p50/dynamitin as a tool to examine the role of dynactin in intracellular processes. Methods Cell Biol. 1999; 61:137-43. Wittmann T, Hyman T. PMID: 9891312.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 30     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    61. Localization of the kinesin-like protein Xklp2 to spindle poles requires a leucine zipper, a microtubule-associated protein, and dynein. J Cell Biol. 1998 Nov 02; 143(3):673-85. Wittmann T, Boleti H, Antony C, Karsenti E, Vernos I. PMID: 9813089.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 77     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    62. Purification and characterization of full-length mammalian poly(A) polymerase. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1997 Feb 28; 1350(3):293-305. Wittmann T, Wahle E. PMID: 9061026.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
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