Honors & Awards

  • [DOC] graduate fellowship, Austrian Academy of Sciences (2005)
  • SNF Fellowship for Prospective Researchers, Swiss National Science Foundation (2010)
  • HFSP long-term fellowship, Human Frontiers Science Porgram (2011)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule (ETH Zurich) (2009)
  • MSc/Diplôme d'ingénieur, Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie Strasbourg (ESBS) (2003)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • A polarized Ca2+, diacylglycerol and STIM1 signalling system regulates directed cell migration NATURE CELL BIOLOGY Tsai, F., Seki, A., Yang, H. W., Hayer, A., Carrasco, S., Malmersjoe, S., Meyer, T. 2014; 16 (2): 133-144


    Ca(2+) signals control cell migration by regulating forward movement and cell adhesion. However, it is not well understood how Ca(2+)-regulatory proteins and second messengers are spatially organized in migrating cells. Here we show that receptor tyrosine kinase and phospholipase C signalling are restricted to the front of migrating endothelial leader cells, triggering local Ca(2+) pulses, local depletion of Ca(2+) in the endoplasmic reticulum and local activation of STIM1, supporting pulsatile front retraction and adhesion. At the same time, the mediator of store-operated Ca(2+) influx, STIM1, is transported by microtubule plus ends to the front. Furthermore, higher Ca(2+) pump rates in the front relative to the back of the plasma membrane enable effective local Ca(2+) signalling by locally decreasing basal Ca(2+). Finally, polarized phospholipase C signalling generates a diacylglycerol gradient towards the front that promotes persistent forward migration. Thus, cells employ an integrated Ca(2+) control system with polarized Ca(2+) signalling proteins and second messengers to synergistically promote directed cell migration.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncb2906

    View details for Web of Science ID 000331161400003

  • Endolysosomal sorting of ubiquitylated caveolin-1 is regulated by VCP and UBXD1 and impaired by VCP disease mutations NATURE CELL BIOLOGY Ritz, D., Vuk, M., Kirchner, P., Bug, M., Schuetz, S., Hayer, A., Bremer, S., Lusk, C., Baloh, R. H., Lee, H., Glatter, T., Gstaiger, M., Aebersold, R., Weihl, C. C., Meyer, H. 2011; 13 (9): 1116-U148


    The AAA-ATPase VCP (also known as p97) cooperates with distinct cofactors to process ubiquitylated proteins in different cellular pathways. VCP missense mutations cause a systemic degenerative disease in humans, but the molecular pathogenesis is unclear. We used an unbiased mass spectrometry approach and identified a VCP complex with the UBXD1 cofactor, which binds to the plasma membrane protein caveolin-1 (CAV1) and whose formation is specifically disrupted by disease-associated mutations. We show that VCP-UBXD1 targets mono-ubiquitylated CAV1 in SDS-resistant high-molecular-weight complexes on endosomes, which are en route to degradation in endolysosomes. Expression of VCP mutant proteins, chemical inhibition of VCP, or siRNA-mediated depletion of UBXD1 leads to a block of CAV1 transport at the limiting membrane of enlarged endosomes in cultured cells. In patient muscle, muscle-specific caveolin-3 accumulates in sarcoplasmic pools and specifically delocalizes from the sarcolemma. These results extend the cellular functions of VCP to mediating sorting of ubiquitylated cargo in the endocytic pathway and indicate that impaired trafficking of caveolin may contribute to pathogenesis in individuals with VCP mutations.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncb2301

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294487000017

    View details for PubMedID 21822278

  • Role of Endosomes in Simian Virus 40 Entry and Infection JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY Engel, S., Heger, T., Mancini, R., Herzog, F., Kartenbeck, J., Hayer, A., Helenius, A. 2011; 85 (9): 4198-4211


    After binding to its cell surface receptor ganglioside GM1, simian virus 40 (SV40) is endocytosed by lipid raft-mediated endocytosis and slowly transported to the endoplasmic reticulum, where partial uncoating occurs. We analyzed the intracellular pathway taken by the virus in HeLa and CV-1 cells by using a targeted small interfering RNA (siRNA) silencing screen, electron microscopy, and live-cell imaging as well as by testing a variety of cellular inhibitors and other perturbants. We found that the virus entered early endosomes, late endosomes, and probably endolysosomes before reaching the endoplasmic reticulum and that this pathway was part of the infectious route. The virus was especially sensitive to a variety of perturbations that inhibited endosome acidification and maturation. Contrary to our previous models, which postulated the passage of the virus through caveolin-rich organelles that we called caveosomes, we conclude that SV40 depends on the classical endocytic pathway for infectious entry.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.02179-10

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289618600014

    View details for PubMedID 21345959

  • Folding, Quality Control, and Secretion of Pancreatic Ribonuclease in Live Cells JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Geiger, R., Gautschi, M., Thor, F., Hayer, A., Helenius, A. 2011; 286 (7): 5813-5822


    Although bovine pancreatic RNase is one of the best characterized proteins in respect to structure and in vitro refolding, little is known about its synthesis and maturation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of live cells. We expressed the RNase in live cells and analyzed its folding, quality control, and secretion using pulse-chase analysis and other cell biological techniques. In contrast to the slow in vitro refolding, the protein folded almost instantly after translation and translocation into the ER lumen (t(½) < 3 min). Despite high stability of the native protein, only about half of the RNase reached a secretion competent, monomeric form and was rapidly transported from the rough ER via the Golgi complex (t(½) = 16 min) to the extracellular space (t(½) = 35 min). The rest remained in the ER mainly in the form of dimers and was slowly degraded. The dimers were most likely formed by C-terminal domain swapping since mutation of Asn(113), a residue that stabilizes such dimers, to Ser increased the efficiency of secretion from 59 to 75%. Consistent with stringent ER quality control in vivo, the secreted RNase in the bovine pancreas was mainly monomeric, whereas the enzyme present in the cells also contained 20% dimers. These results suggest that the efficiency of secretion is not only determined by the stability of the native protein but by multiple factors including the stability of secretion-incompetent side products of folding. The presence of N-glycans had little effect on the folding and secretion process.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M110.171694

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287230600090

    View details for PubMedID 21156800

  • Caveolin-1 is ubiquitinated and targeted to intralumenal vesicles in endolysosomes for degradation JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Hayer, A., Stoeber, M., Ritz, D., Engel, S., Meyer, H. H., Helenius, A. 2010; 191 (3): 615-629


    Caveolae are long-lived plasma membrane microdomains composed of caveolins, cavins, and a cholesterol-rich membrane. Little is known about how caveolae disassemble and how their coat components are degraded. We studied the degradation of caveolin-1 (CAV1), a major caveolar protein, in CV1 cells. CAV1 was degraded very slowly, but turnover could be accelerated by compromising caveolae assembly. Now, CAV1 became detectable in late endosomes (LE) and lysosomes where it was degraded. Targeting to the degradative pathway required ubiquitination and the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery for inclusion into intralumenal vesicles in endosomes. A dual-tag strategy allowed us to monitor exposure of CAV1 to the acidic lumen of individual, maturing LE in living cells. Importantly, we found that "caveosomes," previously described by our group as independent organelles distinct from endosomes, actually correspond to late endosomal compartments modified by the accumulation of overexpressed CAV1 awaiting degradation. The findings led us to a revised model for endocytic trafficking of CAV1.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.201003086

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284135700017

    View details for PubMedID 21041450

  • High-content imaging NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY Hayer, A., Meyer, T. 2010; 28 (5): 424-425

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt0510-424

    View details for Web of Science ID 000277452700017

    View details for PubMedID 20458305

  • Biogenesis of Caveolae: Stepwise Assembly of Large Caveolin and Cavin Complexes TRAFFIC Hayer, A., Stoeber, M., Bissig, C., Helenius, A. 2010; 11 (3): 361-382


    We analyzed the assembly of caveolae in CV1 cells by following the fate of newly synthesized caveolin-1 (CAV1), caveolin-2 and polymerase I and transcript release factor (PTRF)/cavin-1 biochemically and using live-cell imaging. Immediately after synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), CAV1 assembled into 8S complexes that concentrated in ER exit sites, due to a DXE sequence in the N-terminal domain. The coat protein II (COPII) machinery allowed rapid transport to the Golgi complex. Accumulating in the medial Golgi, the caveolins lost their diffusional mobility, underwent conformational changes, associated with cholesterol, and eventually assembled into 70S complexes. Together with green fluorescent protein-glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GFP-GPI), the newly assembled caveolin scaffolds underwent transport to the plasma membrane in vesicular carriers distinct from those containing vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) G-protein. After arrival, PTRF/cavin-1 was recruited to the caveolar domains over a period of 25 min or longer. PTRF/cavin-1 itself was present in 60S complexes that also formed in the absence of CAV1. Our study showed the existence of two novel large complexes containing caveolar coat components, and identified a hierarchy of events required for caveolae assembly occurring stepwise in three distinct locations--the ER, the Golgi complex and the plasma membrane.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2009.01023.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000274454500006

    View details for PubMedID 20070607

  • Simulations of (An)isotropic diffusion on curved biological surfaces BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL Sbalzarini, I. F., Hayer, A., HELENIUS, A., Koumoutsakos, P. 2006; 90 (3): 878-885


    We present a computational particle method for the simulation of isotropic and anisotropic diffusion on curved biological surfaces that have been reconstructed from image data. The method is capable of handling surfaces of high curvature and complex shape, which are often encountered in biology. The method is validated on simple benchmark problems and is shown to be second-order accurate in space and time and of high parallel efficiency. It is applied to simulations of diffusion on the membrane of endoplasmic reticula (ER) in live cells. Diffusion simulations are conducted on geometries reconstructed from real ER samples and are compared to fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments in the same ER samples using the transmembrane protein tsO45-VSV-G, C-terminally tagged with green fluorescent protein. Such comparisons allow derivation of geometry-corrected molecular diffusion constants for membrane components from fluorescence recovery after photobleaching data. The results of the simulations indicate that the diffusion behavior of molecules in the ER membrane differs significantly from the volumetric diffusion of soluble molecules in the lumen of the same ER. The apparent speed of recovery differs by a factor of approximately 4, even when the molecular diffusion constants of the two molecules are identical. In addition, the specific shape of the membrane affects the recovery half-time, which is found to vary by a factor of approximately 2 in different ER samples.

    View details for DOI 10.1529/biophysj.105.073809

    View details for Web of Science ID 000234586200017

    View details for PubMedID 16284262

  • Assembly and trafficking of caveolar domains in the cell: caveolae as stable, cargo-triggered, vesicular transporters JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Tagawa, A., Mezzacasa, A., Hayer, A., Longatti, A., Pelkmans, L., Helenius, A. 2005; 170 (5): 769-779


    Using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIR-FM), fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), and other light microscopy techniques, we analyzed the dynamics, the activation, and the assembly of caveolae labeled with fluorescently tagged caveolin-1 (Cav1). We found that when activated by simian virus 40 (SV40), a non-enveloped DNA virus that uses caveolae for cell entry, the fraction of mobile caveolae was dramatically enhanced both in the plasma membrane (PM) and in the caveosome, an intracellular organelle that functions as an intermediate station in caveolar endocytosis. Activation also resulted in increased microtubule (MT)-dependent, long-range movement of caveolar vesicles. We generated heterokaryons that contained GFP- and RFP-tagged caveolae by fusing cells expressing Cav1-GFP and -RFP, respectively, and showed that even when activated, individual caveolar domains underwent little exchange of Cav1. Only when the cells were subjected to transient cholesterol depletion, did the caveolae domain exchange Cav1. Thus, in contrast to clathrin-, or other types of coated transport vesicles, caveolae constitute stable, cholesterol-dependent membrane domains that can serve as fixed containers through vesicle traffic. Finally, we identified the Golgi complex as the site where newly assembled caveolar domains appeared first.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.200506103

    View details for Web of Science ID 000231510300011

    View details for PubMedID 16129785

  • Molecular switches at the synapse emerge from receptor and kinase traffic PLOS COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY Hayer, A., Bhalla, U. S. 2005; 1 (2): 137-154


    Changes in the synaptic connection strengths between neurons are believed to play a role in memory formation. An important mechanism for changing synaptic strength is through movement of neurotransmitter receptors and regulatory proteins to and from the synapse. Several activity-triggered biochemical events control these movements. Here we use computer models to explore how these putative memory-related changes can be stabilised long after the initial trigger, and beyond the lifetime of synaptic molecules. We base our models on published biochemical data and experiments on the activity-dependent movement of a glutamate receptor, AMPAR, and a calcium-dependent kinase, CaMKII. We find that both of these molecules participate in distinct bistable switches. These simulated switches are effective for long periods despite molecular turnover and biochemical fluctuations arising from the small numbers of molecules in the synapse. The AMPAR switch arises from a novel self-recruitment process where the presence of sufficient receptors biases the receptor movement cycle to insert still more receptors into the synapse. The CaMKII switch arises from autophosphorylation of the kinase. The switches may function in a tightly coupled manner, or relatively independently. The latter case leads to multiple stable states of the synapse. We propose that similar self-recruitment cycles may be important for maintaining levels of many molecules that undergo regulated movement, and that these may lead to combinatorial possible stable states of systems like the synapse.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pcbi.0010020

    View details for Web of Science ID 000234712600006

    View details for PubMedID 16110334

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