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Building muscle – one splice at a time

December 23, 2014
Humans possess different types of muscles. While the heart pumps blood through our vessels, skeletal muscles allow us to lift weights or run marathons. Depending on their specific function, the different muscle types adapt their molecular architecture. Particular combinations of protein subunits form variants of the contractile apparatus of the muscle, the sarcomere. Studying the flight muscles of the fruit fly Drosophila, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, discovered an important concept explaining how the contractile machinery of the flight muscles is built differently to other body muscles. The results published in the journal EMBO Reports may help to eventually understand and treat human myopathies or cardiomyopathies. [more]
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Sweet proteins do better

December 03, 2014
Many proteins in our cells are decorated with sugar molecule add-ons, which are essential for the functions of these proteins. One particular type of sugar modification, called GlcNAc, is of key importance, because our cells cannot survive without it. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich have recently uncovered a previously unknown mechanism explaining how this sugar residue affects protein function and thereby influences our development. These results have been published in the journal Developmental Cell. [more]
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Max Planck researchers describe new molecular shuttle service

November 19, 2014
They are tiny and hairy and sit on almost all of our cells. Of course we are talking about cilia, protein structures that are key to numerous functions of our body. However, if their assembly is incorrect or incomplete, patients are unable to hear and their kidneys would lose the ability to filtrate blood. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Munich-Martinsried, Germany, have now been able to elucidate a fundamental mechanism mediating the transport of new building blocks to the cilia. “The mechanism we investigated can explain how the cell provides new material for the cilia and how failures in this process lead to diseases like deafness“, says André Mourão, first author of the study. [more]
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Thomas Wollert is EMBO Young Investigator

November 12, 2014
The European Molecular Biology Organisation EMBO stands for Europe-wide cutting-edge research in life sciences. EMBO supports young talented researchers in their career and systematically stimulates national and international scientific exchange. Thomas Wollert, group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, is one of 27 young scientists who were announced EMBO Young Investigator 2015. As of January 2015, he will receive an annual financial award of 15,000 Euros for three years. [more]
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Carsten Grashoff Receives Leopoldina Early Career Award

September 04, 2014
Carsten Grashoff, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried, has been honored with the Early Career Award of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina for his work in the field of cellular mechanobiology. The award is endowed with 30,000 euros and is funded by the Commerzbank Foundation. Grashoff will accept the award at the Leopoldina annual meeting in Rostock on Friday, September 19, 2014, from Leopoldina President Prof. Dr. Jörg Hacker and Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, member of the Board of Trustees of the Commerzbank Foundation. [more]
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News from the Mailroom of the Cell

September 03, 2014
Cells in an organism communicate with each other via messenger substances. These are often proteins such as hormones, which after their production inside the cell are transported out of the cell and secreted to the cellular environment. How exactly this export process takes place in detail has until now remained unclear. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Munich-Martinsried have now shown in detail how the ‘mailroom of the cell’ sorts a subset of the proteins that are transported out of the cell. “This mechanism regulates the correct sorting of the proteins and is thus essential for the human organism,” said Julia von Blume, research group leader at the MPIB. The results have now been published in the Journal of Cell Biology. [more]
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A new cellular garbage control pathway with relevance for human neurodegenerative diseases

July 18, 2014
Several human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease but also ageing, are linked to an accumulation of abnormal and aggregated proteins in cells. Cellular “garbage” of this type can be removed from cells by sweeping them to a cellular recycling station known as the lysosome. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, now discovered a new family of helper proteins that recognize labeled cellular protein waste and guide them efficiently to the lysosome for destruction and subsequent recycling into their reusable compounds. [more]
 
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