Dr Thomas Wassmer


School of Life & Health Sciences
Aston Unversity

Research Theme

Cellular and Molecular Biomedicine 

Research Centre 

Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)  


I started off by studying Biology at the University of Konstanz in Germany. It was then that I became interested in cell biology and membrane trafficking, an interest that I followed during my doctoral studies at the University of Konstanz in the lab of Prof. H. Plattner and the lab of Dr. J. Cohen at the Centre de Genetique Moleculaire in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. During my post-doctoral time my research was focused on sorting events and transport processes in the endosomal system of the cell in the labs of Prof. P. Cullen at the University of Bristol, UK, and Prof. B. Hoflack at the Technological University of Dresden, Germany. I joined Aston University as a Lecturer in Cell Biology in March 2010.

Teaching Activity on the MPharm Programme

PH1402: cell biology and molecular biology. 

Qualifications & Education

  • 2006: Dr. rer. nat., University of Konstanz, Germany
  • 2002: Diploma in Biology, University of Konstanz


  • 2010 – date: Lecturer in Cell Biology, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  • 2008 – 2010: Research associate in the lab of Prof. B. Hoflack, Biotec, TU-Dresden, Germany
  • 2005 – 2008: Research assistant in the lab of Prof. P. Cullen, Department of Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK

Research interests

I am interested in numerous sorting and transport processes in the eukaryotic cell, particularly sorting events occurring in the endosomal system. My main goal is to find out how the many steps involved in a trafficking pathway are linked to result in productive and directed transport, e.g. how cargo and membrane properties regulate coat assembly, how coats achieve to form transport carriers, how cytoskeletal elements and motors assist in their directed movement and, finally, how recognition and fusion of carriers is organised at their target.

In order to study the complex process of coat assembly and carrier formation, we use an in-vitro system in which many aspects of coat assembly and recruitment of accessory proteins can be reconstructed and biochemically dissected. The system depends on purified cytoplasmic domains of receptors being chemically linked to the surface of liposomes, mimicking the situation found in any compartment in the cell. Recruitment of coat proteins and accessory factors from a cytosol allows the rapid characterisation of the coat proteome by biochemical methods and mass spectrometry.

The functional significance of candidates is then tested in cell biological assays in order to understand their contribution to a specific transport event.


Publication list

  • Wassmer T, Attar N, Harterink M, van Weering JR, Traer CJ, Oakley J, Goud, B, Stephens DJ, Verkade P, Korswagen HC, and Cullen PJ (2009) The retromer coat complex co-ordinates endosomal sorting and dynein-mediated transport, with carrier recognition by the trans-Golgi network. Dev. Cell 17:110-22

  • Hara S, Kiyokawa E, Iemura S, Natsume T, Wassmer T, Cullen PJ, Hiai H, and Matsuda M. (2008) The DHR1 domain of DOCK180 binds to SNX5 and regulates cation-independent mannose 6-phosphate receptor transport. Mol. Biol. Cell 19:3823-35

  • Wassmer T, Sehring IM, Kissmehl R, and Plattner H. (2008) The V-ATPase in Paramecium: functional specialization by multiple gene isoforms. Pflugers Arch. 457:599-607

  • Traer CJ, Rutherford AC, Palmer KJ, Wassmer T, Oakley J, Attar N, Carlton JG, Kremerskothen J, Stephens DJ, and Cullen PJ. (2007) SNX4 coordinates endosomal sorting of TfnR with dynein-mediated transport into the endocytic recycling compartment. Nat. Cell. Biol. 9:1370-80

  • Kissmehl R, Schilde C, Wassmer T, Danzer C, Nuehse K, Lutter K, and Plattner H. (2007) Molecular identification of 26 syntaxin genes and their assignment to the different trafficking pathways in Paramecium. Traffic. 8:523-42

  • Wassmer T, Attar N, Bujny MV, Oakley J, Traer CJ, and Cullen PJ. (2007) A loss-of-function screen reveals SNX5 and SNX6 as potential components of the mammalian retromer. J. Cell Sci. 120:45-54

  • Rutherford AC, Traer C, Wassmer T, Pattni K, Bujny MV, Carlton JG, Stenmark H, and Cullen PJ. (2006) The mammalian phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate 5-kinase (PIKfyve) regulates endosome-to-TGN retrograde transport. J. Cell Sci. 119:3944-57

  • Ladenburger EM, Korn I, Kasielke N, Wassmer T, and Plattner H. (2006) An Ins(1,4,5)P3 receptor in Paramecium is associated with the osmoregulatory system. J. Cell Sci. 119:3705-17

  • Schilde C, Wassmer T, Mansfeld J, Plattner H, and Kissmehl R. (2006) A multigene family encoding R-SNAREs in the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia. Traffic. 7:440-55

  • Wassmer T, Kissmehl R, Cohen J, and Plattner H. (2006) Seventeen a-subunit isoforms of paramecium V-ATPase provide high specialization in localization and function. Mol. Biol. Cell. 17:917-30

  • Wassmer T, Froissard M, Plattner H, Kissmehl R, and Cohen J. (2005) The vacuolar proton-ATPase plays a major role in several membrane-bounded organelles in Paramecium. J. Cell Sci. 118:2813-25

  • Putman CT, Sultan KR, Wassmer T, Bamford JA, Skorjanc D, and Pette D. (2001) Fiber-type transitions and satellite cell activation in low-frequency-stimulated muscles of young and aging rats. J. Gerontol. 56:B510-9

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