Research Group "Modeling of Protein Complexes" (Friedrich Förster)
Vitally important cellular processes such as the communication between or the synthesis of proteins are controlled by large protein complexes. Most of these molecular machines are very complex and are comprised of up to several hundred individual pieces. Friedrich Förster and his Research Group “Modeling of Protein Complexes” pursue the goal to identify the three dimensional structure of such complexes. Therefore, the scientists have to identify each individual component first. Using cryo-electron tomography, they create three-dimensional pictures with ultrahigh resolution out of quick-frozen complexes. They supplement this information with proven interactions between the different components. All data then converge in the computer, where an analysis program precisely computes the most probable protein structure. In particular, the group aims to unravel the structure of those complexes that are responsible for membrane protein production and degradation. The scientists could already elucidate the three-dimensional structure of the ER-associated ribosome, which is depicted here. This protein complex, consisting of a large 60S (blue) and small 40S (yellow) ribosomal subunit, is responsible for the synthesis of proteins and is located at the ER membrane.