Single-molecule spectroscopy in living cells
Conformations of the disordered ensemble


Our main research interests are the physical principles and molecular mechanisms determining biomolecular function. A particular focus are intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). At variance with the classical structure-function paradigm that we are familiar with from 50 years of structural biology, IDPs lack a persistent structure but, nevertheless, participate in many biological processes such as transcription, translation and signal transduction. In our lab, we combine fluorescence single-molecule spectroscopy with concepts from polymer physics to explain fundamental properties of disordered proteins, such as the role of electrostatic interactions, ion screening and macromolecular crowding on their conformations, as well as the contribution of internal friction to their dynamics. We are particularly interested in developing new tools to investigate the role of disordered proteins in intracellular phase transitions.



  1. Soranno A, Holla A, Dingfelder F, Nettels D, Makarov DE, Schuler B,
    Integrated view of internal friction in unfolded proteins from single-molecule FRET, contact quenching, theory, and simulations
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. (2016) 

  2. Borgia A, Zheng W, Buholzer K, Borgia MB, Schüler A, Hofmann H, Soranno A, Nettels D, Gast K, Grishaev A, Best RB, Schuler B,
    Consistent View of Polypeptide Chain Expansion in Chemical Denaturants from Multiple Experimental Methods,
    J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2016)

  3. Aznauryan M, Delgado L, Soranno A, Nettels D, Huang J, Labhardt AM, Grzesiek S, Schuler B.
    A comprehensive structural and dynamic view of an unfolded protein from the combination of single-molecule FRET, NMR and SAXS,
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. (2016)

  4. Schuler B, Soranno A, Hofmann H, Nettels D.
    Single-molecule FRET spectroscopy and the polymer physics of unfolded and intrinsically disordered proteins,
    Annu. Rev. Biophys. (2016)

  5. Borgia A., Kemplen K.R., Borgia M.B., Soranno A., Shammas S., Wunderlich B., Nettels D., Best R.B.,    Clarke J. and Schuler B.,
    Transient misfolding dominates multidomain protein folding,
    Nat. Comm. (2015)

  6. König I., Zarrin-Afsar A., Aznauryan M., Soranno A., Wunderlich B., Dingfelder F., Stüber J., Plückthun        A., Nettels D., Schuler B.,
    Single-molecule spectroscopy of protein conformational dynamics in live cells,
    Nature methods, 12 773-779 (2015)

  7. Soranno A, Koenig I, Borgia MB, Hofmann H, Zosel F, Nettels D, Schuler B. Single-molecule  spectroscopy reveals polymer effects of disordered proteins in crowded environments
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2014 vol 111 no. 13 4874-4879


Open positions

In our lab we investigate disordered proteins at the interface between Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, combining state of the art single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and advanced theoretical models. In particular, we are interested in understanding the role of disordered regions in the formation of membraneless organelles  by investigating model systems in vitro and in living cells.

We are currently looking for:

  • PostDocs: interested candidates should have a background in biophysics, protein biochemistry, cell biology, biomedical engineering, or a closely related field. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, C.V.,  a brief description of their past research accomplishments, and the contact information for three references to
  • Graduate students interested in working in our lab can contact Andrea Soranno directly, but should apply through one of the PhD programs (Biochemistry, Computational and Molecular Biophysics, etc…) at Washington University in Saint Louis.
  • Undergraduate students interested in single-molecule spectroscopy and its application to intrinsically disordered proteins can contact Andrea Soranno directly.



Dr. Andrea Soranno :


Office: (314) 273 16 32

Fax: (314) 362 71 83


Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
660 St Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8231
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO 63110

Dr. Soranno’s office is in room 2913 of the South Building of the School of Medicine. The lab is located in room 2908 and 2916 of the same building.