Lukas KapiteinDr. Lukas C. Kapitein
Cell Biology
Faculty of Science, Utrecht University
Kruytgebouw, room Z501
Padualaan 8
3584 CH Utrecht
The Netherlands
Tel. +31-(0)30-2533458
Fax. +31-(0)30-2532837

Curriculum Vitae

Lukas Kapitein studied Physics and Astronomy at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he also received his PhD in Biophysics in 2007. His postdoctoral training in Neurobiology was at the Erasmus Medical Center, funded by an NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls ALW-VENI grant and an Erasmus MC Fellowship. As of 2011, he works as an Assistant Professor at Utrecht University. In 2013, he received an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council and a VIDI fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.
A pdf of a short CV can be found here.

Research summary

Our goal is to obtain a physical understanding of the mechanisms by which cells establish and maintain their precise shape and intracellular organization. We focus on the cytoskeleton, a mechanical network of biopolymers and associated proteins that gives the cell its shape and strength. Motor proteins can move over these biopolymers to deliver cargo to specific subcellular compartments or to reorganize the fibers themselves.

Our research currently concentrates on the cytoskeleton of neurons, the brain cells whose complex spatial architecture and polarized organization into axons and dendrites are crucial for proper functioning. Obtaining physical insight in the mechanisms that establish polarity, polarized transport and dendrite maturation is important, as neurodegenerative diseases often correlate with altered morphology and distorted intracellular transport. Our research is organized around two central ambitions:

  • Finding the road map: we aim to employ or develop advanced optical methods to resolve the precise intracellular architecture and dynamics of the neuronal cytoskeleton. This includes mapping the distribution of microtubule orientations and modifications, as well as their plus and minus ends.
  • Finding the traffic rules: we aim to employ or develop controlled intracellular assays to probe the cooperative dynamics of specific motor-cargo assemblies. This will reveal how specific motor proteins interact with the neuronal cytoskeleton to drive selective transport to dendrites and axons, as wells as in and out of dendritic spines.

To achieve these goals, we combine protein engineering, optogenetics, advanced microscopy techniques (TIRFM, STORM/PALM) and mathematical modeling.

Lab members

Anael Chazeau
Eugene Katrukha
Wilco Nijenhuis
Desiree Salas
Mithila Burute
PhD students:
Max Adrian
Anne Janssen
Roderick Tas
Chiung-Yi Chen




Kaplan M, Narasimhan S, de Heus C, Mance D, van Doorn S, Houben K, Popov-Celeketic D, Damman R, Katrukha EA, Jain P, Geerts WJ, Heck AJ, Folkers GE, Kapitein LC, Lemeer S, van Bergen En Henegouwen PM, and Baldus M. EGFR Dynamics Change during Activation in Native Membranes as Revealed by NMR. Cell, 2016. 167(5): 1241-1251 e11.

Noordstra I, Liu Q, Nijenhuis W, Hua S, Jiang K, Baars M, Remmelzwaal S, Martin M, Kapitein LC, and Akhmanova A. Control of apico-basal epithelial polarity by the microtubule minus-end-binding protein CAMSAP3 and spectraplakin ACF7. J Cell Sci, 2016. 129(22): 4278-4288.

Liu Q, Liu F, Yu KL, Tas R, Grigoriev I, Remmelzwaal S, Serra-Marques A, Kapitein LC, Heck AJ, and Akhmanova A. MICAL3 Flavoprotein Monooxygenase Forms a Complex with Centralspindlin and Regulates Cytokinesis. J Biol Chem, 2016. 291(39): 20617-29.

Doodhi H, Prota AE, Rodriguez-Garcia R, Xiao H, Custar DW, Bargsten K, Katrukha EA, Hilbert M, Hua S, Jiang K, Grigoriev I, Yang CP, Cox D, Horwitz SB, Kapitein LC, Akhmanova A, and Steinmetz MO. Termination of Protofilament Elongation by Eribulin Induces Lattice Defects that Promote Microtubule Catastrophes. Curr Biol, 2016. 26(13): 1713-21.

Franker MA, Esteves da Silva M, Tas RP, Tortosa E, Cao Y, Frias CP, Janssen AF, Wulf PS, Kapitein LC, and Hoogenraad CC. Three-Step Model for Polarized Sorting of KIF17 into Dendrites. Curr Biol, 2016. 26(13): 1705-12.

Kevenaar JT, Bianchi S, van Spronsen M, Olieric N, Lipka J, Frias CP, Mikhaylova M, Harterink M, Keijzer N, Wulf PS, Hilbert M, Kapitein LC, de Graaff E, Ahkmanova A, Steinmetz MO, and Hoogenraad CC. Kinesin-Binding Protein Controls Microtubule Dynamics and Cargo Trafficking by Regulating Kinesin Motor Activity. Curr Biol, 2016. 26(7): 849-61.

Harterink M, van Bergeijk P, Allier C, de Haan B, van den Heuvel S, Hoogenraad CC, and Kapitein LC. Light-controlled intracellular transport in Caenorhabditis elegans. Curr Biol, 2016. 26(4): R153-4.

Kuijpers M, van de Willige D, Freal A, Chazeau A, Franker MA, Hofenk J, Rodrigues RJ, Kapitein LC, Akhmanova A, Jaarsma D, and Hoogenraad CC. Dynein Regulator NDEL1 Controls Polarized Cargo Transport at the Axon Initial Segment. Neuron, 2016. 89(3): 461-71.

Yau KW, Schatzle P, Tortosa E, Pages S, Holtmaat A, Kapitein LC, and Hoogenraad CC. Dendrites In Vitro and In Vivo Contain Microtubules of Opposite Polarity and Axon Formation Correlates with Uniform Plus-End-Out Microtubule Orientation. J Neurosci, 2016. 36(4): 1071-85.

Lipka J, Kapitein LC, Jaworski J, and Hoogenraad CC. Microtubule-binding protein doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) guides kinesin-3-mediated cargo transport to dendrites. EMBO J, 2016. 35(3): 302-18.

Chazeau A, Katrukha EA, Hoogenraad CC, and Kapitein LC. Studying neuronal microtubule organization and microtubule-associated proteins using single molecule localization microscopy. Methods Cell Biol, 2016. 131: 127-49.

Schatzle P, Kapitein LC, and Hoogenraad CC. Live imaging of microtubule dynamics in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. Methods Cell Biol, 2016. 131: 107-26.

van Bergeijk P, Hoogenraad CC, and Kapitein LC. Right Time, Right Place: Probing the Functions of Organelle Positioning. Trends Cell Biol, 2016. 26(2): 121-34.


van Beuningen SF, Will L, Harterink M, Chazeau A, van Battum EY, Frias CP, Franker MA, Katrukha EA, Stucchi R, Vocking K, Antunes AT, Slenders L, Doulkeridou S, Sillevis Smitt P, Altelaar AF, Post JA, Akhmanova A, Pasterkamp RJ, Kapitein LC, de Graaff E, Hoogenraad CC. TRIM46 Controls Neuronal Polarity and Axon Specification by Driving the Formation of Parallel Microtubule Arrays. Neuron. 2015 Dec 16;88(6):1208-26. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.11.012. Epub 2015 Dec 6. PubMed PMID: 26671463.

Esteves da Silva M, Adrian M, Schätzle P, Lipka J, Watanabe T, Cho S, Futai K, Wierenga CJ, Kapitein LC, Hoogenraad CC. Positioning of AMPA Receptor-Containing Endosomes Regulates Synapse Architecture. Cell Rep. 2015 Nov 3;13(5):933-43. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.09.062. Epub 2015 Oct 22. PubMed PMID:   26565907.

van Bergeijk P, Hoogenraad CC, Kapitein LC. Right Time, Right Place: Probing the Functions of Organelle Positioning. Trends Cell Biol. 2015 Nov 2. pii: S0962-8924(15)00188-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2015.10.001. PubMed PMID:   26541125.

Mikhaylova M, Cloin BM, Finan K, van den Berg R, Teeuw J, Kijanka MM, Sokolowski M, Katrukha EA, Maidorn M, Opazo F, Moutel S, Vantard M, Perez F, van Bergen en Henegouwen PM, Hoogenraad CC, Ewers H, Kapitein LC. Resolving bundled microtubules using anti-tubulin nanobodies. Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 11;6:7933. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8933. PubMed PMID:   26260773.

Kapitein LC, Hoogenraad CC. Building the Neuronal Microtubule Cytoskeleton. Neuron. 2015 Aug 5;87(3):492-506. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.05.046. PubMed PMID:   26247859.

Van Bergeijk P, Adrian M, Hoogenraad CC, Kapitein LC. Optogenetic control of organelle transport and positioning. Nature. 2015 Jan 7. doi: 10.1038/nature14128. PMID: 25561173


Adrian M, Kusters R, Wierenga CJ, Storm C, Hoogenraad CC, Kapitein LC. Barriers in the brain: resolving dendritic spine morphology and compartmentalization. Front Neuroanat. 2014 Dec 4;8:142. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00142. PMID: 25538570

Cloin BM, Hoogenraad CC, Mikhaylova M, and Kapitein LC. Single Molecule Localization Microscopy to Study Neuronal Microtubule Organization. Immunocytochemistry and Related Techniques, Neuromethods, 2014 vol. 101, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-2313-7_21

Yau KW, van Beuningen SF, Cunha-Ferreira I, Cloin BM, van Battum EY, Will L, Schätzle P, Tas RP, van Krugten J, Katrukha EA, Jiang K, Wulf PS, Mikhaylova M, Harterink M, Pasterkamp RJ, Akhmanova A, Kapitein LC, Hoogenraad CC. Microtubule minus-end binding protein CAMSAP2 controls axon specification and dendrite development. Neuron. 2014 Jun 4;82(5):1058-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.04.019. PMID: 24908486

Gumy LF, Katrukha EA, Kapitein LC, Hoogenraad CC. New insights into mRNA trafficking in axons. Dev Neurobiol. 2014 Mar;74(3):233-44. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22121. Epub 2013 Sep 30. Review. PubMed PMID: 23959656

Doodhi H, Katrukha EA, Kapitein LC, Akhmanova A. Mechanical and geometrical constraints control kinesin-based microtubule guidance. Curr Biol. 2014 Feb 3;24(3):322-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.005. PMID: 24462000


Kusters R, Kapitein LC, Hoogenraad CC, and Storm C. Shape-induced asymmetric diffusion in dendritic spines allows efficient synaptic AMPA receptor trapping. Biophys J. 2013 Dec 17, 105(12): 2743-50. PMID: 24359746.

Gumy LF, Chew DJ, Tortosa E, Katrukha EA, Kapitein LC, Tolkovsky AM, Hoogenraad CC, Fawcett JW. The Kinesin-2 Family Member KIF3C Regulates Microtubule Dynamics and Is Required for Axon Growth and Regeneration. J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 10;33(28):11329-45. PMID: 23843507

Mohan R, Katrukha EA, Doodhi H, Smal I, Meijering E, Kapitein LC, Steinmetz MO, Akhmanova A. End-binding proteins sensitize microtubules to the action of microtubule-targeting agents. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 28;110(22):8900-5. PMID: 23674690

Kapitein LC, van Bergeijk P, Lipka J, Keijzer N, Wulf PS, Katrukha EA, Akhmanova A, Hoogenraad CC. Myosin-V opposes microtubule-based cargo transport and drives directional motility on cortical actin. Curr Biol. 2013 May 6;23(9):828-34. PMID:23602478

Van Spronsen M, Mikhaylova M, Lipka J, Schlager MA, van den Heuvel DJ, Kuijpers M, Wulf PS, Keijzer N, Demmers J, Kapitein LC, Jaarsma D, Gerritsen HC, Akhmanova A, Hoogenraad CC.TRAK/Milton motor-adaptor proteins steer mitochondrial trafficking to axons and dendrites. Neuron. 2013 Feb 6;77(3):485-502. PMID: 23395375


Kapitein LC, Mackintosh FC, Hoogenraad CC. De verkeersregels in hersencellen. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Natuurkunde 2012


Kapitein LC, Yau KW, Gouveia SM, van der Zwan WA, Wulf PS, Keijzer N, Demmers J, Jaworski J, Akhmanova A, Hoogenraad CC.NMDA receptor activation suppresses microtubule growth and spine entry. J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 1;31(22):8194-209. PMID:21632941

Hellal F, Hurtado A, Ruschel J, Flynn KC, Laskowski CJ, Umlauf M, Kapitein LC, Strikis D, Lemmon V, Bixby J, Hoogenraad CC, Bradke F. Microtubule stabilization reduces scarring and causes axon regeneration after spinal cord injury. Science. 2011 Feb 18;331(6019):928-31. PMID: 21273450

Kapitein LC, Hoogenraad CC. Which way to go? Cytoskeletal organization and polarized transport in neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2011 Jan;46(1):9-20. PMID: 20817096


Kapitein LC, Yau KW, Hoogenraad CC. Microtubule dynamics in dendritic spines. Methods Cell Biol. 2010;97:111-32. PMID: 20719268

Montenegro Gouveia S, Leslie K, Kapitein LC, Buey RM, Grigoriev I, Wagenbach M, Smal I, Meijering E, Hoogenraad CC, Wordeman L, Steinmetz MO, Akhmanova A. In vitro reconstitution of the functional interplay between MCAK and EB3 at microtubule plus ends. Curr Biol. 2010 Oct 12;20(19):1717-22. PMID: 20850319

Kapitein LC, Schlager MA, van der Zwan WA, Wulf PS, Keijzer N, Hoogenraad CC. Probing intracellular motor protein activity using an inducible cargo trafficking assay. Biophys J. 2010 Oct 6;99(7):2143-52. PMID: 20923648

Lakämper S, Thiede C, Düselder A, Reiter S, Korneev MJ, Kapitein LC, Peterman EJ, Schmidt CF. The effect of monastrol on the processive motility of a dimeric kinesin-5 head/kinesin-1 stalk chimera. J Mol Biol. 2010 May 28;399(1):1-8. PMID: 20227420

Schlager MA, Kapitein LC, Grigoriev I, Burzynski GM, Wulf PS, Keijzer N, de Graaff E, Fukuda M, Shepherd IT, Akhmanova A, Hoogenraad CC. Pericentrosomal targeting of Rab6 secretory vesicles by Bicaudal-D-related protein 1 (BICDR-1) regulates neuritogenesis. EMBO J. 2010 May 19;29(10):1637-51. PMID: 20360680

Kapitein LC, Schlager MA, Kuijpers M, Wulf PS, van Spronsen M, MacKintosh FC, Hoogenraad CC. Mixed microtubules steer dynein-driven cargo transport into dendrites. Curr Biol. 2010 Feb 23;20(4):290-9. PMID: 20137950

Hoogenraad CC, Popa I, Futai K, Martinez-Sanchez E, Wulf PS, van Vlijmen T, Dortland BR, Oorschot V, Govers R, Monti M, Heck AJ, Sheng M, Klumperman J, Rehmann H, Jaarsma D, Kapitein LC, van der Sluijs P. Neuron specific Rab4 effector GRASP-1 coordinates membrane specialization and maturation of recycling endosomes. PLoS Biol. 2010 Jan 19;8(1):e1000283. PMID: 20098723

Stiess M, Maghelli N, Kapitein LC, Gomis-Rüth S, Wilsch-Bräuninger M, Hoogenraad CC, Tolić-Nørrelykke IM, Bradke F. Axon extension occurs independently of centrosomal microtubule nucleation. Science. 2010 Feb 5;327(5966):704-7. PMID: 20056854