Research Group "Intraflagellar Transport" (Esben Lorentzen)
The surface of eukaryotic cells often has tiny, hair-like cilia protruding that fulfill important tasks in the body: move cells like sperm cells, process external signals and coordinate the correct arrangement of the inner organs during embryonic development of the organism. To do this, cilia have to be supplied with the right building blocks, a process known as intraflagellar transport (IFT). How this transport system works is the primary research aim of Esben Lorentzen and his Research Group “Intraflagellar Transport”. All cilia use this process and therefore all cilia are similar in structure despite their multifaceted tasks: in their interior there is a bundle of fibers. Certain molecules have to be transported along these fibers in order to ensure the correct construction and maintenance of functional cilia. If defects in this system occur, damaged cilia can develop and lead to severe physical and mental disorders. IFT is essential for cilia and thus for a functional organism. On the picture a three-dimensional structure of an IFT subunit is depicted which the scientists were able to reconstruct.