Human WIPI β-propellers in autophagy, health and disease

Tassula Proikas-Cezanne

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  • PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) 1995 from the University of Hamburg (external thesis at the MPI for Plant Breeding, Cologne)
  • Postdoctoral scientist at the Marie Curie Research Institute, Oxted, UK and Temple University, Philadelphia, USA
  • Scientific consultant at Onconova Therapeutics, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • Since 2004 group leader at the Interfaculty Institute for Cell Biology, University of Tübingen
  • Since 2012 apl. Professor for Molecular Biology and Cell Biology at the Faculty of Science, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen



Research Interest

We aim to contribute to the molecular understanding of autophagy in health and disease. Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal degradation pathway that secures cellular homeostasis and that also contributes to a variety of age-related human diseases. Earlier we identified the human WIPI genes, that function as essential phospholipid effectors during the process of autophagy. Our recent findings revealed that human WIPI proteins act as scaffolds interconnecting energy- and nutrient-dependent signal control of autophagy.

Our current aims are to identify signaling networks that regulate WIPI proteins, and to identify synthetic and natural compounds that can modulate autophagy in pathophysiological circumstances such as cancer.

  • IMPRS Tassula Figure
    click to enlarge


WIPI-1 is a membrane protein of both the outer (OM) and inner membrane (IM) of autophagosomes (AP).
Taken from: Proikas-Cezanne T & Robenek H (2011). Freeze-fracture replica immunolabelling reveals human WIPI-1 and WIPI-2 as membrane proteins of autophagosomes. J Cell Mol Med. 15(9): 2007-2010.

Available PhD Projects

The signaling network regulating WIPI-mediated autophagy in health and disease.

Selected Reading

1) Bakula D, Müller AJ, Zuleger T, Takacs Z, Franz-Wachtel M, Thost AK, Brigger D, Tschan MP, Frickey T, Robenek H, Macek B, Proikas-Cezanne T (2017). WIPI3 and WIPI4 β-propellers are scaffolds for LKB1-AMPK-TSC signalling circuits in the control of autophagy. Nat Commun. 8:15637.

2) Proikas-Cezanne T, Takacs Z, Dönnes P, Kohlbacher O (2015). WIPI proteins: essential PtdIns3P effectors at the nascent autophagosome. J Cell Sci. 128(2):207-17. Review.

3) Proikas-Cezanne T et al. (2004). WIPI-1alpha (WIPI49), a member of the novel 7-bladed WIPI protein family, is aberrantly expressed in human cancer and is linked to starvation-induced autophagy. Oncogene 23(58):9314-9325.