Press releases - News from the MPI of Biochemistry

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Crowd Control

July 02, 2018
Have you ever been stuck in the middle of a crowd? As people pack closer together, it becomes more difficult to move through the crowd. Sometimes it can become so tightly packed that you cannot move at all. If this sounds uncomfortable, then you probably wouldn’t like to live inside a cell, which is densely packed with proteins and other molecules. This crowding is very important for the cell—it pushes the molecules together so that they can interact and perform the chemical reactions that the cell needs to live. In fact, many human diseases are likely influenced by changes in molecular crowding that cause harmful interactions between proteins. Despite its importance, it remains a mystery how the crowding inside cells is controlled. Combining biophysics, cell biology, physical modeling, and cryo-electron tomography, an international team of scientists at New York University (NYU) and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) has discovered that the mTORC1 signaling pathway controls the concentration of ribosomes inside the cell, thereby regulating crowding and the ability of proteins to interact with each other to form phase-separated compartments. This study is published in the journal Cell. [more]
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Finding the off-switch for side effects

June 21, 2018
Opioids are powerful painkillers that act on the brain, but they have a range of harmful side effects including addiction. Researchers have developed a tool that gives deeper insights into the brain’s response to opioids. Using mass spectrometry, they determined changes of proteins’ phosphorylation patterns – the molecular switches of the proteins – in five different regions of the brain and assigned them to the desired and the undesired effects of opioid treatment. Their results, which are published in the journal Science, will lead the way for the identification of novel drug targets and the design of a new class of painkillers with fewer side effects. The study was performed by researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in collaboration with researchers from the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, University of Innsbruck, and Temple University, USA. [more]
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Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis

June 18, 2018
Protein analysis is becoming an increasingly important tool on the road towards personalized medicine. The method of choice for this purpose is mass spectrometry. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have developed a new labelling method for proteins called EASI-Tag. The new method makes it possible to analyze multiple samples at the same time using conventional mass spectrometers. Unlike earlier approaches, EASI-Tag is able to detect quantitative differences between samples extremely accurately. The method has now been presented in the scientific journal Nature Methods. [more]
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Brenda Schulman is elected EMBO Member

May 14, 2018
Today, the European Molecular Biology Organization, EMBO announced Brenda Schulman as a new EMBO member.  Since 2016, Schulman has been a Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. „It is a great honor to be elected as a member of EMBO, and this recognition is an exceptionally warm welcome by the European molecular biology community“ says Schulman.  As among the 62 newly elected EMBO Members, Schulman joins a group of more then 1800 outstanding life scientists from Europe and around the world. With the admission of Brenda Schulman, all Directors of the MPI of Biochemistry are now EMBO members. [more]
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 Ernst Jung Prize awarded to Wolfgang Baumeister

May 04, 2018
The Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine is awarded for lifetime achievement by a scientist who has made a major contribution to the advancement of medicine. This year’s prize was awarded to Munich biophysicist Wolfgang Baumeister for his work in the field of cryo-electron microscopy and in elucidating the structure of large macromolecular protein complexes. Wolfgang Baumeister is Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. The prize includes a €30,000 scholarship for Baumeister to award to a junior scientist of his choice. The prize was awarded at a ceremony in Hamburg on 4 May 2018. [more]
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Charles F. Kettering Award for Manajit Hayer-Hartl

May 02, 2018
Manajit Hayer-Hartl, head of the research group "Chaperonin-assisted Protein Folding” at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried receives the Charles F. Kettering Award 2018 from the American Society of Plant Biologists. The award honors excellent research in the field of photosynthesis. Hayer-Hartl’s work brings insights into chloroplast protein-chaperone biology and helping to advance many aspects of the field of photosynthesis. This includes the solution to several long-standing challenges associated with the biogenesis of the photosynthetic enzyme Rubisco. Her work has dramatically advanced and reinvigorated interest in studying Rubisco, due to her pioneering achievements in understanding the biogenesis and maintenance of Rubisco. These accomplishments have led to the successful assembly of plant Rubisco in E. coli, an achievement that had eluded scientists for nearly 50 years. The award ceremony will take place at the annual meeting of the Society in Montreal, Canada. [more]
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Lighting up DNA-based nanostructures

April 24, 2018
Most people know DNA as the carrier of genetic information. However, scientists now use DNA – based on their physical properties – as basic building blocks to produce complex, nanometer-sized objects. This technique is called DNA origami. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have now for the first time used a new variant of super-resolution microscopy to visualize all the strands of a DNA origami structure. The method promises to optimize the design of such structures for specific biological and biophysical applications. The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.   [more]
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