Elias Puchner

Elias Puchner

Elias Puchner

Associate Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy


Physics And Nanotechnology Building
Room 413
115 Union St. Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Puchner Group


Ph.D. (summa cum laude), University of Munich, 2008 

Dipl. Phys. (M.S.), University of Munich, 2006

Professional Background

Assistant Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota, 2014-present

Postdoc, University of California, San Francisco, 2014 

Session chair, Winter q-bio Conference, Hawaii, 2014

Guest editor FEBS, 2013-2014

Postdoc, University of Munich, 2010

Publication price Center for NanoScience, Munich, 2008 and 2010

Reviewer activities: NSF, ACS Nano, Biophysical Journal, Journal of Molecular Biology, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Analytical Chemistry, Journal of Molecular Recognition.

Research Interests

Our lab employs and further develops modern biophysical techniques to study cellular processes with high precision and detail.

Living cells have the remarkable ability to sense environmental signals such as physical force or small molecules. This information is processed by intracellular signaling networks, which allow a cell to respond to the stimulus. Our research at the intersection of physics and biology aims to understand how these cellular signaling processes are regulated on different hierarchical length-scales by employing and further developing single molecule and super-resolution microscopy techniques.

On a mesoscopic length scale signaling proteins can self-assemble to complexes and intracellular organelles. We employ recently developed quantitative super-resolution microscopy to resolve these structures inside cells below the optical diffraction limit and to measure their biomolecular composition. This characterization allows to detect changes as organelles mature and to follow spatial re-arrangements of signaling proteins in response to stimuli. A particular focus of our lab is to investigate if and how such spatial re-arrangements can modulate the signaling strength of pathways.

On the nanoscopic length scale the activity of individual proteins can be regulated by conformational changes that are induced by binding reactions, covalent modifications or physical force. Such conformational changes that take place on a nm length scale and involve forces in the piconewton range can be dynamically investigated with atomic-force microscopy (AFM) based single molecule force spectroscopy.


Honors and Awards

Postdoctoral research fellowship, German Research Foundation, 2010-2012

Attocube Wittenstein Research Award, 2008

Selected Publications

Santosh Adhikari, Joe Moscatelli, Elias M Puchner, Quantitative live-cell PALM reveals nanoscopic Faa4 redistributions and dynamics on lipid droplets during metabolic transitions of yeast, Mol Biol Cell. 32, 17, 1565-1578 (2021) doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-11-0695.

Santosh Adhikari, Chiranjib Banerjee, Joe Moscatelli, Elias M Puchner, Conventional BODIPY Conjugates for Live-Cell Super-Resolution Microscopy and Single-Molecule Tracking J Vis Exp. 160 (2020). doi: 10.3791/60950

Angel Mancebo, Luke DeMars, Christopher T Ertsgaard, Elias M Puchner, Precisely calibrated and spatially informed illumination for conventional fluorescence and improved PALM imaging applications, Methods Appl. Fluoresc. 8, 2, 025004 (2020) doi:10.1088/2050-6120/ab716a

Santosh Adhikari, Joe Moscatelli, Elizabeth M. Smith, Chiranjib Banerjee & Elias M. Puchner, Single-molecule localization microscopy and tracking with red-shifted states of conventional BODIPY conjugates in living cellsNature Communications 10,3400 (2019) [abstract]

Elizabeth M Smith, Arnaud Gautier, Elias M Puchner, Single-molecule localization microscopy with the Fluorescence-Activating and absorption-Shifting Tag (FAST) systemACS chemical biology 14, 6, 1115-1120 (2019) [abstract]

Wu CY, Roybal KT, Puchner EM, Onuffer J and Lim WA, Remote control of therapeutic T cells through a small molecule–gated chimeric receptorScience 350, 6258 (2015) [abstract]

van Lengerich B, Agnew C, Puchner EM, Huang B and Jura N, EGF and NRG induce phosphorylation of HER3/ERBB3 by EGFR using distinct oligomeric mechanismsProc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 114 (14), E2836–E2845, (2017) [abstract]

Sydor MS, Czymmek KJ, Puchner EM*, Mennella V*, Super-Resolution Microscopy: From Single Molecules to Supramolecular AssembliesTrends in Cell Biology, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2015.10.004 (2015) [abstract]

Elias M. Puchner (Editorial), Single molecule techniques - Applications in biologyFEBS Letters Special Issue 588(19 ), 3519-3648 (2014) [abstract]

Puchner EM, Walter JM, Kasper R, Huang B, and Lim WA, Counting molecules in single organelles with superresolution microscopy allows tracking of the endosome maturation trajectoryProc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 110, 16015 (2013) [abstract]

Puchner EM and Gaub HE, Single-Molecule MechanoenzymaticsAnnual Review of Biophysics 41, 497-518 (2012) [abstract]

Stahl SW, Puchner EM, Alexandrovich A, Gautel M, and Gaub HE, A conditional gating mechanism assures the integrity of the molecular force-sensor titin kinaseBiophysical journal 101, 1978-86 (2011) [abstract]

Puchner EM and Gaub HE , Exploring the conformation-regulated function of titin kinase by mechanical pump and probe experiments with single moleculesAngewandte Chemie 49, 1147-50 (2010) [abstract]

Puchner EM, and Gaub HE, Force and function: probing proteins with AFM-based force spectroscopyCurrent Opinion in Structural Biology 19, 605-14 (2009). [abstract]

Stahl SW, Puchner EM, and Gaub HE, Photothermal cantilever actuation for fast single-molecule force spectroscopyReview of scientific instruments 80, 073702 (2009) [abstract]

Kufer SK, Puchner EM, Gumpp H, Liedl T, and Gaub HE, Single-molecule cut-and-paste surface assemblyScience 319, 594-6 (2008) [abstract]

Puchner EM, Alexandrovich A, Kho AL, Hensen U, Schafer LV, Brandmeier B, Grater F, Grubmuller H, Gaub HE, and Gautel M, Mechanoenzymatics of titin kinaseProc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 105, 13385-90 (2008) [abstract]

Puchner EM, Franzen G, Gautel M, and Gaub HE, Comparing proteins by their unfolding patternBiophysical Journal 95, 426-34 (2008) [abstract]

Puchner EM, Kufer SK, Strackharn M, Stahl SW, and Gaub HE, Nanoparticle self-assembly on a DNA-scaffold written by single-molecule cut-and-pasteNano Letters 8, 3692-5 (2008) [abstract]

Lab Members and Advisees

  • Elizabeth Smith, Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Chiranjib Banerjee, Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Dushyant Mehra, Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Maria Paz Ramirez Lopez, Researcher
Ragnar Stefansson, Graduate Student

  • Santosh Adhikari, Graduate Student

  • Angel Mancebo, Graduate Student

  • Luke DeMars, Undergraduate Student

  • Zhixian Han, Undergraduate Student
Lucy Chen, Undergraduate Student

  • Santosh Adhikari, Graduate Student

  • Angel Mancebo, Graduate Student

  • Jacob Ritz, Graduate Student
  • Yu Xu, Graduate Student

Former Lab Members

  • Christopher Ertsgaard, Undergraduate Student

  • Jack Lange, Undergraduate Student

  • Dong Wang, Undergraduate Student
Mark Howard, NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET)