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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 84 | 4. Dezember 2017
Priority Programme “Epithelial Intercellular Junctions as Dynamic Hubs to Integrate Forces, Signals and Cell Behaviour” (SPP 1782)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme entitled “Epithelial Intercellular Junctions as Dynamic Hubs to Integrate Forces, Signals and Cell Behaviour” (SPP 1782). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Epithelia line organ and body surfaces to provide structural support and serve as barriers against diverse external stressors such as mechanical force, pathogens, toxins, and dehydration. Further, they separate different physiological environments and are instrumental during morphogenesis. Epithelial functions depend greatly on the ability of intercellular junctions to sense and integrate chemical signals and mechanical forces. They transmit these into cells to direct rapid changes in cell architecture and/or transcriptional programming, thus directing cellular behaviour. Understanding at a mechanistic level how intercellular junctions sense their neighbours, chemical signals and force, and conversely, how the cytoskeleton feeds back to intercellular junctions, will be central to comprehend control of tissue morphogenesis, homeostasis and regeneration. Further, elucidating how defects in intercellular junction components by-pass junction-mediated control of epithelial tissue integrity is a prerequisite to understand the basis of multiple disorders including epithelial inherited fragility disorders, inflammation and cancer.

The primary goal of the Priority Programme is to understand how intercellular junctions sense and respond to chemical and mechanical signals from their external environment and from the cytoskeleton and how they convert these signals into processes that instruct epithelial morphogenesis, differentiation and pathogenesis. Current participating scientists have established interdisciplinary, collaborative projects, ranging from the level of molecules to cells, tissues and model organisms, combining biophysical, biochemical, cell biological and physiological techniques. All projects should aim at the following goals:

  • identification of molecules that sense and transmit mechanical force and chemical signals at intercellular junctions, and investigation of pathways that mediate downstream signal transmission to the cytoskeleton and other cell components
  • integration of chemical and mechanical signals by adherens junctions, tight junctions and desmosomes to regulate cell behaviour and cell fate
  • understanding at a quantitative level how mechanical force is sensed at intercellular junctions and how it is transmitted into chemical signals, and conversely, how chemical signalling regulates the strength of intercellular adhesion
  • advancement of biophysical and imaging methods to analyse force and chemical signalling in tissues

To foster optimal collaboration between groups, the following projects are explicitly excluded:

  • work on cytoskeletal proteins not focussing on their interactions with intercellular junctions
  • analysis of cell-matrix junctions
  • studies that focus on gap and tight junctions except if they investigate potential adhesive functions
  • descriptive, non-mechanistic studies on disease conditions or animal models except if they include mechanistic analysis in cultured cells derived from the above sources
  • identification or characterisation of adhesive junction-related biomarkers

Applications must be written in English and submitted by 1 May 2018 via the electronic elan system. Furthermore, please send an electronic version (pdf format) of the application to the coordinator of the Priority Programme. Researchers considering to submit proposals should contact the coordinator prior to submission to ascertain that proposals fit the scientific scope of the programme. To submit a proposal for a new project within the Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 1782” from the current list of calls. Renewal applications can be submitted under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 24 April 2018 to submit a proposal under this call. You will receive confirmation of your registration, usually within one working day.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from the DFG website or accessed through the elan portal. Please also refer to the guidelines for submitting proposals, which are published at the website of the Priority Programme.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Thomas Magin,
    Universität Leipzig,
    Professur für Zell- und Entwicklungsbiologie,
    Institut für Biologie,
    Philipp-Rosenthal-Straße 55, 04103 Leipzig,
    phone +49 341 97-39582,
    Link auf E-Mailthomas.magin@uni-leipzig.de

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:


This text is available at Interner Linkwww.dfg.de/foerderung/info_wissenschaft/2017/info_wissenschaft_17_84/. Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item.