Prof. Dr. Olivier Pertz

Cellular Dynamics lab


We use a multidisciplinary approach to study single-cell, spatio-temporal signaling dynamics that regulate cell morphogenesis and cell fate decisions.



We study the spatio-temporal signaling events that regulate cell morphogenesis and cell fate decisions. The main hypothesis relevant to our research is that these signaling events are highly dynamic, are precisely regulated in time and space, and can be highly heterogeneous within distinct cells of a population. An important current limitation in our field is that this spatio-temporal resolution of signaling is missed in classic biochemical methods that average populations of thousands of cells, or that rely on the analysis of static, steady-states. To address these challenges, we devise novel quantitative approaches to measure/manipulate signaling dynamics at biologically relevant time/length scales. This includes: 1. Designing and using genetically-encoded biosensors that report on signaling dynamics in single living cells; 2. Microfabrication techniques that mimic geometric features of extracellular environments and induce in vivo relevant cellular behaviors, or allow us to dynamically perturb our cellular systems; 3. Computer vision/statistical image analysis methods to quantify the complex datasets we generate; 4. Mathematical modeling approaches to provide biological insight into these complex cellular systems. We specifically use these technologies to study Rho GTPase signaling regulating cell migration and neuronal differentiation, receptor tyrosine kinase signaling regulating cell fate decisions, and the process of local mRNA translation. Our multidisciplinary approach is likely to provide novel insights that will allow us to tackle a variety of pathologies including nervous system regeneration, neurodegeneration, metastatic cancer or drug resistance. Our approach might also allow us to efficiently manipulate stem cell fate.

Pertz lab

Post Docs

PhD students


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Song, Jiyoung; Ryu, Hyunryul; Chung, Minhwan; Kim, Youngtaek; Blum, Yannick; Lee, Sung Sik; Pertz, Olivier; Jeon, Noo Li (2018). Microfluidic platform for single cell analysis under dynamic spatial and temporal stimulation. Biosensors & bioelectronics, 104, pp. 58-64. Elsevier 10.1016/j.bios.2017.12.038


Kempf, Anissa; Boda, Enrica; Kwok, Jessica C F; Fritz, Rafael; Grande, Valentina; Kaelin, Andrea M; Ristic, Zorica; Schmandke, Andre; Schmandke, Antonio; Tews, Bjoern; Fawcett, James W; Pertz, Olivier; Buffo, Annalisa; Schwab, Martin E (2017). Control of Cell Shape, Neurite Outgrowth, and Migration by a Nogo-A/HSPG Interaction. Developmental cell, 43(1), 24-34.e5. Cell Press 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.08.014

Dessauges, Coralie; Pertz, Olivier (2017). Developmental ERK Signaling Goes Digital. Developmental cell, 42(5), pp. 443-444. Cell Press 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.08.023

Blum, Yannick; Fritz, Rafael D; Ryu, Hyunryul; Pertz, Olivier (2017). Measuring ERK Activity Dynamics in Single Living Cells Using FRET Biosensors. In: Jimenez, Gerardo (ed.) ERK signaling. Methods in molecular biology: Vol. 1487 (pp. 203-221). Springer 10.1007/978-1-4939-6424-6_15


Nölke, Thilo; Schwan, Carsten; Lehmann, Friederike; Østevold, Kristine; Pertz, Olivier; Aktories, Klaus (2016). Septins guide microtubule protrusions induced by actin-depolymerizing toxins like Clostridium difficile transferase (CDT). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 113(28), pp. 7870-7875. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.1522717113

Fusco, Ludovico; Lefort, Riwal; Smith, Kevin; Benmansour, Fethallah; Gonzalez, German; Barillari, Caterina; Rinn, Bernd; Fleuret, Francois; Fua, Pascal; Pertz, Olivier (2016). Computer vision profiling of neurite outgrowth dynamics reveals spatiotemporal modularity of Rho GTPase signaling. Journal of cell biology, 212(1), pp. 91-111. Rockefeller Institute Press 10.1083/jcb.201506018

Martin, Katrin; Reimann, Andreas; Fritz, Rafael D; Ryu, Hyunryul; Jeon, Noo Li; Pertz, Olivier (2016). Spatio-temporal co-ordination of RhoA, Rac1 and Cdc42 activation during prototypical edge protrusion and retraction dynamics. Scientific Reports, 6, p. 21901. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/srep21901

Fritz, Rafael Dominik; Pertz, Olivier (2016). The dynamics of spatio-temporal Rho GTPase signaling: formation of signaling patterns. F1000Research, 5(749) F1000 Research Ltd 10.12688/f1000research.7370.1


Ryu, Hyunryul; Chung, Minhwan; Dobrzyński, Maciej; Fey, Dirk; Blum, Yannick; Lee, Sung Sik; Peter, Matthias; Kholodenko, Boris N; Jeon, Noo Li; Pertz, Olivier (2015). Frequency modulation of ERK activation dynamics rewires cell fate. Molecular systems biology, 11(11), p. 838. EMBO Press 10.15252/msb.20156458

Fritz, Rafael Dominik; Menshykau, Denis; Martin, Katrin; Reimann, Andreas; Pontelli, Valeria; Pertz, Olivier (2015). SrGAP2-Dependent Integration of Membrane Geometry and Slit-Robo-Repulsive Cues Regulates Fibroblast Contact Inhibition of Locomotion. Developmental cell, 35(1), pp. 78-92. Cell Press 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.09.002

Moretti, Francesca; Rolando, Chiara; Winker, Moritz; Ivanek, Robert; Rodriguez, Javier; Von Kriegsheim, Alex; Taylor, Verdon; Bustin, Michael; Pertz, Olivier (2015). Growth Cone Localization of the mRNA Encoding the Chromatin Regulator HMGN5 Modulates Neurite Outgrowth. Molecular and cellular biology, 35(11), pp. 2035-2050. American Society for Microbiology 10.1128/MCB.00133-15


Martin, Katrin; Vilela, Marco; Jeon, Noo Li; Danuser, Gaudenz; Pertz, Olivier (2014). A growth factor-induced, spatially organizing cytoskeletal module enables rapid and persistent fibroblast migration. Developmental cell, 30(6), pp. 701-716. Cell Press 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.07.022

Fengos, Georgios; Schmidt, Alexander; Martin, Katrin; Fluri, Erika; Aebersold, Ruedi; Iber, Dagmar; Pertz, Olivier (2014). Spatial proteomic and phospho-proteomic organization in three prototypical cell migration modes. Proteome Science, 12, p. 23. BioMed Central 10.1186/1477-5956-12-23


Fritz, Rafael D; Letzelter, Michel; Reimann, Andreas; Martin, Katrin; Fusco, Ludovico; Ritsma, Laila; Ponsioen, Bas; Fluri, Erika; Schulte-Merker, Stefan; van Rheenen, Jacco; Pertz, Olivier (2013). A versatile toolkit to produce sensitive FRET biosensors to visualize signaling in time and space. Science signaling, 6(285), rs12. American Association for the Advancement of Science 10.1126/scisignal.2004135


Feltrin, Daniel; Fusco, Ludovico; Witte, Harald; Moretti, Francesca; Martin, Katrin; Letzelter, Michel; Fluri, Erika; Scheiffele, Peter; Pertz, Olivier (2012). Growth cone MKK7 mRNA targeting regulates MAP1b-dependent microtubule bundling to control neurite elongation. PLoS biology, 10(12), e1001439. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001439


Pertz, Olivier (2010). Spatio-temporal Rho GTPase signaling - where are we now? Journal of cell science, 123(Pt 11), pp. 1841-1850. Company of Biologists Limited 10.1242/jcs.064345

Jang, Kyung-Jin; Kim, Min Sung; Feltrin, Daniel; Jeon, Noo Li; Suh, Kahp-Yang; Pertz, Olivier (2010). Two distinct filopodia populations at the growth cone allow to sense nanotopographical extracellular matrix cues to guide neurite outgrowth. PLoS ONE, 5(12), e15966. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0015966

While we have no funded position available right now, the Cellular Dynamics lab is always looking for highly motivated students and post-docs with an interest in signaling to the cytoskeleton, control of cell fate decisions, or local mRNA translation.

If interested, please submit a CV, statement of research interest, and names of  1-2 references in one pdf file to

We have currently advertised two master thesis positions for UniBE students.