Press releases - News from the MPI of Biochemistry

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 Researchers unravel the social network of immune cells

April 25, 2017
“Macrophages are real chatterboxes” Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – nowadays, good social networking and communication is more important than ever. The immune system also resembles a large social network, as shown by Felix Meissner and his team in the Experimental System Immunology Research Group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. With the help of proteomics they deciphered the messages exchanged between immune cells responsible for protecting us  against diseases. In doing so, they have discovered complex cellular communication structures and previously unknown connections between various cell types. Their research findings were published in the journal Nature Immunology. [more]
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Operation of ancient biological clock uncovered

March 16, 2017
A team of Dutch and German researchers under the leadership of Albert Heck and Friedrich Förster has discovered the operation of one of the oldest biological clocks in the world, which is crucial for life on earth as we know it. The researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the Utrecht University applied a new combination of cutting-edge research techniques. They discovered how the biological clock in cyanobacteria works in detail. Important to understand life, because cyanobacteria were the first organisms on earth producing oxygen via photosynthesis. The results of their research were published in Science. [more]
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The genetic transmission of gene locks

March 16, 2017
Although all cells in an organism contain the same genes, only some of the genes are activated in a given cells and others remain inactive. Genes coil around histone proteins in the form of DNA threads. If a gene has to remain inactive, its histones are marked by the PRC2 enzyme so that this gene is locked down and cannot be read. When cells divide and the genes are copied, these histone marks must be placed again, at exactly the same location. The mechanism that enables transmission of this information has now been explained by Jürg Müller from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried in a study published in the journal Science. [more]
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ERC Grant for Naoko Mizuno

March 15, 2017
Naoko Mizuno, head of the research group “Cellular and Membrane Trafficking” at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, has been awarded a Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). [more]
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Nobel Prize Laureate Robert Huber turns 80

February 17, 2017
 “Proteins are nice, crystals are nicer”  “Photosynthesis is the most important chemical reaction on Earth.” So proclaimed the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1988 in its announcement that Robert Huber, together with Hartmut Michel and Johann Deisenhofer, was to receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Working as a team, they decoded the three-dimensional structure of the photosynthetic reaction centre. The Nobel Laureate and head of the “Structural Research” emeritus working group at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry celebrates his 80th birthday on February 20. The fascination for the structure of proteins has never left him. Currently, he is researching drugs to treat autoimmune diseases.  [more]
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Johann-Georg-Zimmermann Medal for Axel Ullrich

February 06, 2017
Axel Ullrich, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried has been awarded the Johann-Georg-Zimmermann Medal for his services in the field of cancer research. For more than 40 years the award, sponsored by Deutsche Hypothekenbank AG, has recognized outstanding scientists in the field of cancer research. The MHHplus Foundation will present the award at Hannover Medical School on 6 February 2017. [more]
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With scissors and string – chromosome segregation in meiosis  

January 13, 2017
Once together, never apart – isn’t that how the saying goes? Not so in meiosis, the special type of cell division in which gametes, sperm and egg cells are formed. At the start of meiosis the ring-shaped protein complex, referred to as cohesin, is the string that ties the chromosome strands together. The chromosomes are where the blueprint for the body is stored. If each egg cell and each sperm is to come out of meiosis with only one set of chromosomes, these strings need to be cut up in a precise pattern. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have demonstrated in baker’s yeast how a kinase enzyme, which is also present in the human body, controls the cleavage of the cohesin rings and coordinates it with the exit from meiosis and gamete formation. It is a mechanism, which could explain how chromosome segregation is regulated, or goes wrong, in human sperm and egg cells. [more]
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