Press releases - News from the MPI of Biochemistry

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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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The internal clock of cells orchestrates 25 percent of all protein switches

January 10, 2017
Circadian is the latin meaning for “about a day”. Circadian clocks have evolved to adapt our lives to the daily environmental changes on earth: light and warmth during the day and darkness and cold at night. Scientists at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried discovered with the help of the mass spectrometry, that more than 25 percent of the molecular protein switches in mouse liver cells change in a daily manner. These rhythmic switches are binding sites for phosphate molecules, that regulate the function of proteins, and thereby the daily metabolic processes in the organ. The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. [more]
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RNA jam in molecular 3D printer – SKI complex helps

December 22, 2016
Although the terms “cryo-EM” and “SKI complex” evoke images of ice and snow, they actually relate to structural biology. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the Gene Center of the University of Munich (LMU) have now shown that the cellular protein factory and the SKI protein complex are in direct contact. The SKI complex is part of a molecular shredder that breaks down mRNA, the construction manual for proteins, into its individual components. To conduct their analysis, the researchers used cryo-electron microscopy, a technique that involves flash-freezing protein complexes to allow even the tiniest details of their structure to be studied in their natural state. [more]
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MPI trio receives funding from Volkswagen Foundation

December 21, 2016
Hannes Mutschler, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried, together with Dora Tang and Moritz Kreysing from the MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, received 1.3 million euros in research funding from the Volkswagen Foundation. [more]
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“Plus 3” grant for Naoko Mizuno

December 14, 2016
Naoko Mizuno from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried has been awarded funding of 900,000 euros over three years as part of the Plus 3 Perspective Programme of the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation. The programme supports outstanding heads of junior research groups in the development of their research profiles with a view to obtaining a professorial appointment in the future. It also aims to improve the quality of basic medical research. [more]
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The needle in the haystack

December 12, 2016
Immunotherapy for cancer: identifying suitable target antigens by mass spectrometry. The immune system can fight specifically against cancer by tumor-specific T cells although suitable altered target structures are currently mostly unknown. A team at the the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed a method that allows for the first time the reliable identification of suitable antigens directly from patients` tumor cells by mass spectrometry. These structures proved to be immunogenic. This procedure therefore opens up new possibilities for individualized targeted cancer treatments. [more]
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Bavarian Maximilian Order for Dieter Oesterhelt

November 28, 2016
Dieter Oesterhelt, Emeritus Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, has been awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. He received the highest accolade of the Free State of Bavaria for his outstanding scientific achievements, most notably his discovery of the light-sensitive pigment bacteriorhodopsin. This discovery and the deciphering of its function helped pave the way for today’s research field of optogenetics and later practical applications. “I’m delighted that my decades of hard work in science together with many highly motivated colleagues has been recognized,” Oesterhelt said. Unfortunately, he will be unable to attend the award ceremony for the Maximilian Order on 28 November 2016 due to illness. [more]
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