Sonnen: Signalling dynamics

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The Sonnen group investigates how signalling pathway dynamics encode information to control development and homeostasis of multicellular systems.

Figure 1: Transmitting biological information with signalling dynamics. Information can be encoded in the dynamics of a signalling pathway, for instance in oscillations. The signal can be decoded by reading out the signal in a static (e.g. absolute level at the timepoint highlighted with dashed line) or a dynamic manner.

Signalling pathways are inherently dynamic, they change in activity over time. Recent studies have indicated that biological information can be encoded in these dynamics (Figure 1). This so-called “dynamic signal encoding” can have multiple advantages for cells, such as increasing the versatility of signalling pathways, robustness to noise and orchestration of repetitive events (reviewed in Sonnen and Aulehla 2014). Our work aims at understanding the function and the mechanism of dynamic signal encoding in multicellular systems, both during embryonic development and tissue homeostasis.

Key publicationsView all publications

Modulation of phase-shift between Wnt- and Notch-signaling oscillations controls mesoderm segmentation.

Sonnen KF, Lauschke V, Uraji J, Falk H J, Petersen Y, Funk MC, Beaupeux M, François P, Merten CA and Aulehla A.

Cell 172: 1079-1090


Spatiotemporal analysis of a glycolytic activity gradient linked to mouse embryo mesoderm development.

Bulusu V, Prior N, Snaebjornsson MT, Kuehne A, Sonnen KF, Kress J, Stein F, Schultz C, Sauer U and Aulehla A.

Dev Cell 40: 331-341


Semin Cell Dev Biol 34: 91-98


Human Cep192 and Cep152 cooperate in Plk4 recruitment and centriole duplication.

Sonnen KF, Gabryjonczyk AM, Anselm E, Stierhof YD and Nigg EA.

J Cell Sci 126: 3223-3233


Biology Open 1: 965-976


Group leader

Katharina Sonnen

Katharina Sonnen is group leader at the Hubrecht Institute. Her group studies how biological information is robustly transmitted via signalling pathway dynamics in multicellular systems. They focus on the role of signalling pathway dynamics (1) during development using mouse somitogenesis as model system and (2) during tissue homeostasis using intestinal organoids as model system. The Sonnen group uses techniques to perturb and quantitatively analyse the dynamics of signalling pathways. They have established a microfluidic system to dynamically modulate intercellular signalling in multicellular systems. In addition, they complement those tools with biochemical and cell biological techniques to unravel the mechanism of dynamic signal encoding at the molecular level.

Scientific training and positions


Group members

Katharina Sonnen

Principal Investigator

Wouter Thomas


Yasmine el Azhar

PhD Student

Tahmina Fariaby


Positions in our group
Postdoc candidates can contact me directly. Students who want to pursue a Bachelor or Master project in our lab are also welcome to apply. Please send your application including a letter of interest, a CV and names for two potential references to!