Cell Biology, Signal Transduction and Regulation

Every second in our body "fireworks" of processes go off which regulate all life processes ranging from cell division, growth, metabolism to cell death. Proteins are the managers of the cells and regulate these processes. For example, they forward signals, transport substances, are involved in determining which genes are activated, repair defective genes or initiate chemical reactions. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry are elucidating these biological processes, how they are regulated and what happens when errors are made.

<span>Modern high-throughput methods produce huge amounts of data, which in this raw form provide scant information about biological processes. Which biomolecule is expressed when and where and in what quantity? Which proteins interact? On the basis of raw data, Jürgen Cox and his research group have developed customized software to specifically identify molecular signatures from cells, tissues and body fluids in order to characterize them in detail.</span>

Computational Systems Biochemistry

Taking Inventory of the Proteome of a Cell

Modern high-throughput methods produce huge amounts of data, which in this raw form provide scant information about biological processes. Which biomolecule is expressed when and where and in what quantity? Which proteins interact? On the basis of raw data, Jürgen Cox and his research group have developed customized software to specifically identify molecular signatures from cells, tissues and body fluids in order to characterize them in detail. [more]
Integrins are anchor proteins that span the plasma membrane and couple the surrounding with the actin cytoskeleton. Integrins play fundamental roles in numerous important processes including cell migration, cell division and blood clotting. Reinhard Fässler and his team study how integrins execute these diverse functions and how malfunctioning integrins affect organogenesis and disease.

Molecular Medicine

A Switchblade-like Signaling Machine for Cells

Integrins are anchor proteins that span the plasma membrane and couple the surrounding with the actin cytoskeleton. Integrins play fundamental roles in numerous important processes including cell migration, cell division and blood clotting. Reinhard Fässler and his team study how integrins execute these diverse functions and how malfunctioning integrins affect organogenesis and disease. [more]
Cells in our body are exposed to a wide range of mechanical forces: they are under pressure or have to cope with shear and stretch. The goal of Carsten Grashoff and his research group is to understand the effects of these forces on cells in more detail. He therefore developed a microscopy method to measure forces across distinct proteins in cells.

Molecular Mechanotransduction

Cells under Pressure

Cells in our body are exposed to a wide range of mechanical forces: they are under pressure or have to cope with shear and stretch. The goal of Carsten Grashoff and his research group is to understand the effects of these forces on cells in more detail. He therefore developed a microscopy method to measure forces across distinct proteins in cells. [more]
Cell division is a very complex and nevertheless super-accurate process. A single error in the distribution of the genetic material during division can lead to severe birth defects or cancer. How is the required precision achieved on the molecular level? That is the question Stephan Gruber and his team seek to answer.

Chromosome Organization and Dynamics

The Lord of the Rings

Cell division is a very complex and nevertheless super-accurate process. A single error in the distribution of the genetic material during division can lead to severe birth defects or cancer. How is the required precision achieved on the molecular level? That is the question Stephan Gruber and his team seek to answer. [more]
<span>More than 1,000 scientists cooperated in the Human Genome Project to determine the sequence of the human genome. It was a mammoth project that lasted more than ten years and nowadays would just take a few days. Thanks to new technology, today’s scientific research produces gigantic data sets that can be analyzed with the aid of computers within a short time. To achieve this, however, scientists are dependent on special programs and computer-based solutions.</span>

Computational Biology

Software to detect remote kinship

More than 1,000 scientists cooperated in the Human Genome Project to determine the sequence of the human genome. It was a mammoth project that lasted more than ten years and nowadays would just take a few days. Thanks to new technology, today’s scientific research produces gigantic data sets that can be analyzed with the aid of computers within a short time. To achieve this, however, scientists are dependent on special programs and computer-based solutions. [more]
In every cell, innumerable proteins steer complex vital processes. Each protein takes over special tasks, but these can be altered through protein modifications. The scientists in the team of Stefan Jentsch investigate how proteins are marked for their different tasks in the cell.

Molecular Cell Biology

A Tag for Proteins

In every cell, innumerable proteins steer complex vital processes. Each protein takes over special tasks, but these can be altered through protein modifications. The scientists in the team of Stefan Jentsch investigate how proteins are marked for their different tasks in the cell. [more]
<span>Cells resemble large construction sites where hundreds of molecules with different functions interact. The individual cellular components and their complex interactions can be visualized by means of fluorescent dyes in high-resolution microscopy – though so far only a few at a time. Individual aspects of highly complex scenes can be made visible, but although they render valuable insights, they still do not provide a comprehensive overview.</span>

Molecular Imaging and  Bionanotechnology

Group Portrait with Molecules

Cells resemble large construction sites where hundreds of molecules with different functions interact. The individual cellular components and their complex interactions can be visualized by means of fluorescent dyes in high-resolution microscopy – though so far only a few at a time. Individual aspects of highly complex scenes can be made visible, but although they render valuable insights, they still do not provide a comprehensive overview. [more]
<span>Up to 100 trillion microbes inhabit the human intestine. They are essential for health, but the disturbance of the microbiota-host relationship has been associated with various diseases. One such disease is Multiple Sclerosis, as Gurumoorthy Krishnamoorthy has now shown. Together with his research group “Neuroinflammation and Mucosal Immunology”, he is seeking to identify the microbes responsible for triggering Multiple Sclerosis.</span>

Neuroinflammation and Mucosal Immunology

Dangerous Inhabitants

Up to 100 trillion microbes inhabit the human intestine. They are essential for health, but the disturbance of the microbiota-host relationship has been associated with various diseases. One such disease is Multiple Sclerosis, as Gurumoorthy Krishnamoorthy has now shown. Together with his research group “Neuroinflammation and Mucosal Immunology”, he is seeking to identify the microbes responsible for triggering Multiple Sclerosis. [more]
Unlike the genetic blueprint (genome), the protein equipment (proteome) of an organism is not the same for all cells. Even in one and the same cell, it changes very fast. Matthias Mann and his research department want to find out which proteins exist in a cell at a certain point of time.

Proteomics and Signal Transduction

The Interplay of Proteins

Unlike the genetic blueprint (genome), the protein equipment (proteome) of an organism is not the same for all cells. Even in one and the same cell, it changes very fast. Matthias Mann and his research department want to find out which proteins exist in a cell at a certain point of time. [more]
<span>When disaster strikes, the police, fire department and rescue services must work together to coordinate their actions. In the same way, immune reactions in the body must be closely coordinated to enable a targeted defense against infections. Felix Meissner and his research group “Experimental Systems Immunology” are seeking to find out how the defense forces of the immune system work together and communicate at the molecular level.</span>

Experimental Systems Immunology

Eavesdropping on the Immune System

When disaster strikes, the police, fire department and rescue services must work together to coordinate their actions. In the same way, immune reactions in the body must be closely coordinated to enable a targeted defense against infections. Felix Meissner and his research group “Experimental Systems Immunology” are seeking to find out how the defense forces of the immune system work together and communicate at the molecular level. [more]
Each cell of an organism contains a complete copy of the genetic material. Depending on the cell type and the developmental status, only a fraction of it is used, the rest is inactive. But what decides which genes are used? What is the mechanism of this regulation? These are the questions Jürg Müller and his team seek to answer.

Chromatin Biology

How do cells remember their fate?

Each cell of an organism contains a complete copy of the genetic material. Depending on the cell type and the developmental status, only a fraction of it is used, the rest is inactive. But what decides which genes are used? What is the mechanism of this regulation? These are the questions Jürg Müller and his team seek to answer. [more]
The connective tissue holds together the cells of an organism and gives the organs their structure. One of its components is fibronectin. However, this protein not only serves as an adhesive, it also plays an important role in different diseases. Inaam Nakchbandi and her team want to find out how fibronectin functions.

Translational Medicine

Fibronectin – Just an Adhesive?

The connective tissue holds together the cells of an organism and gives the organs their structure. One of its components is fibronectin. However, this protein not only serves as an adhesive, it also plays an important role in different diseases. Inaam Nakchbandi and her team want to find out how fibronectin functions. [more]
Prior to each cell division, the DNA molecule must be duplicated so that mother and daughter cell receive the same genetic information. Errors in replication can lead to cancer, among other diseases. How does the cell ensure the required precision and prevent errors? Boris Pfander and his team seek to find an answer to this question by investigating the control mechanisms of DNA replication.

DNA Replication and Genome Integrity

Uncovering How Perfect Copies Are Made

Prior to each cell division, the DNA molecule must be duplicated so that mother and daughter cell receive the same genetic information. Errors in replication can lead to cancer, among other diseases. How does the cell ensure the required precision and prevent errors? Boris Pfander and his team seek to find an answer to this question by investigating the control mechanisms of DNA replication. [more]
The fruit fly can demonstrate various behaviors such as crawling, running or flying. This is possible because fruit flies have different types of muscles. With the aid of diverse methods, Frank Schnorrer and his colleagues want to decode how the muscles of the fruit fly develop and function.

Muscle Dynamics

Flying Power Packs

The fruit fly can demonstrate various behaviors such as crawling, running or flying. This is possible because fruit flies have different types of muscles. With the aid of diverse methods, Frank Schnorrer and his colleagues want to decode how the muscles of the fruit fly develop and function. [more]
How did the first cells arise billions of years ago? And which features and capabilities did they have? Petra Schwille and her research department want to start from scratch and create a biological system from individual building blocks which is able to self-replicate – an ancestor of all cells.

Cellular and Molecular Biophysics

The ABCs of Life

How did the first cells arise billions of years ago? And which features and capabilities did they have? Petra Schwille and her research department want to start from scratch and create a biological system from individual building blocks which is able to self-replicate – an ancestor of all cells. [more]
The DNA is wrapped in chromosomes that are present in duplicates and form pairs. However, defects in cell division often lead to an increased number of chromosomes. Zuzana Storchova and her team want to decipher how single extra chromosomes or excess chromosome sets affect the equilibrium of the cell.

Maintenance of Genome Stability

Too Much of a Good Thing

The DNA is wrapped in chromosomes that are present in duplicates and form pairs. However, defects in cell division often lead to an increased number of chromosomes. Zuzana Storchova and her team want to decipher how single extra chromosomes or excess chromosome sets affect the equilibrium of the cell. [more]
Defects in the communication between cells have fatal consequences: All cancer types and many other diseases develop because the cellular signal transduction is disturbed. Axel Ullrich and his team study the communication system of the cell and how defects can lead to diseases. With their findings they lay the groundwork for new therapies.

Molecular Biology

The Battle against Cancer

Defects in the communication between cells have fatal consequences: All cancer types and many other diseases develop because the cellular signal transduction is disturbed. Axel Ullrich and his team study the communication system of the cell and how defects can lead to diseases. With their findings they lay the groundwork for new therapies. [more]
In order to allocate the many proteins at the right time to the right place, the cell needs an address and distribution station: The Golgi apparatus. There the proteins are marked and send to the different areas of the cell. Julia von Blume investigates with her group, which molecules and structures are needed for this processes and how mistakes influence them.

Molecular Basis of Protein Trafficking

Cellular Distribution Center

In order to allocate the many proteins at the right time to the right place, the cell needs an address and distribution station: The Golgi apparatus. There the proteins are marked and send to the different areas of the cell. Julia von Blume investigates with her group, which molecules and structures are needed for this processes and how mistakes influence them. [more]
The reaction chambers of a cell (organelles) fulfill different cellular and chemical processes such as the degradation of waste products. Thomas Wollert and his team investigate how cell organelles obtain their three-dimensional form and remain “in shape” – because for the scientists the organelles’ form is the key to understanding their function.

Molecular Membrane and Organelle Biology

How Cells Digest Themselves

The reaction chambers of a cell (organelles) fulfill different cellular and chemical processes such as the degradation of waste products. Thomas Wollert and his team investigate how cell organelles obtain their three-dimensional form and remain “in shape” – because for the scientists the organelles’ form is the key to understanding their function. [more]
Most of the cells in our body contain two copies of every chromosome – one from the father and one from the mother. By contrast, egg and sperm cells carry only one copy of each chromosome so that the normal, diploid set of chromosomes is restored upon fertilization. Egg and sperm are generated in a special type of cell division, called meiosis, during which the number of chromosomes is halved. Zachariae and his Research Group aim to decipher this process in detail.

Chromosome Biology

The Art of Reduction

Most of the cells in our body contain two copies of every chromosome – one from the father and one from the mother. By contrast, egg and sperm cells carry only one copy of each chromosome so that the normal, diploid set of chromosomes is restored upon fertilization. Egg and sperm are generated in a special type of cell division, called meiosis, during which the number of chromosomes is halved. Zachariae and his Research Group aim to decipher this process in detail. [more]
 
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