The sentence “What I cannot create, I do not understand” attributed to physicist Richard Feynman, summarizes the spirit of DivIDe, a consortium that wants to push the ambition of modern-day synthetic biology to the limit of what is currently possible. Although nowadays a good understanding of many principles underlying cell division exist, DivIDE aims to build and combine cell division molecular machinery to obtain “alive-like” molecular behaviours. Furthermore, DivIDE wants to reproduce the molecular mechanism of spindle assembly and maintenance, kinetochore attachment and stabilization, spindle reorganisation during anaphase, and cytokinetic abscission.
To achieve this ambition, DivIDE offers an international multidisciplinary research and training environment based on an integrated network of excellent, complementary, and integrated academic groups and SMEs. Represented in DivIDe are several aspects of cell division, from the maturation of the human oocyte to the detailed molecular understanding of the regulated and dynamic protein-protein interactions that collectively define this finely regulated process of life.
In DivIDe, the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will be involved in a dynamic and diverse network collaborating not only with six academic partners but also with a fertility clinic and two SMEs (link to institutions), providing a focus towards applications for human health and biotechnology. The ESRs will benefit from the expertise of the academic partners and SMEs, thus becoming trained in specific areas of research, and in the practice of international cooperation. Besides, the ESRs will be regularly confronted with the perspective of the private sector.
The ESRs will address complementary questions on the mechanism underlying cell division. These will cover a broad field ranging from experimental systems encompassing oocyte maturation to purely in vitro reconstitution experiments that will provide insights into mechanisms. Emphasis will be on in vitro studies that will mobilize an unprecedented number of high-grade reconstituted components, including the entire kinetochore, the Dynein-Dynactin system, the spindle assembly checkpoint and others, making use of innovative knowledge in the area of microfluidics and nanopatterning. This quantitative, mechanistic approach will be integrated to generate models that will be further developed through experimental testing. The dynamic exchange of ESRs in different partner laboratories will ensure efficient transfer of technologies and knowledge. The scientific work, as well as management, training, exploitation and dissemination will be organised in seven WPs.