2009

In order to effectively fight pathogens, even at remote areas of the human body, immune cells have to move quickly and in a flexible manner. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, have now deciphered the mechanism that illustrates how these mobile cells move on diverse surfaces. “Similar to a car, these cells have an engine, a clutch and wheels which provide the necessary friction,” explains Michael Sixt, a research group leader at the MPI of Biochemistry. The results, which were developed in cooperation with colleagues from the MPI for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, have now been published in Nature Cell Biology. more

For his research on protein folding, Franz-Ulrich Hartl, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, has now been awarded with the Otto Warburg Medal. The prize was presented to him during the international meeting entitled “Signal Transduction and Disease”. more

Protein function and gene expression are often regulated by reversible modifications of already existing proteins. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the University of Copenhagen have now been able to prove that the reversible attachment of acetyl groups influences virtually all functions of human cells and therefore has a much greater importance than previously assumed. Whether it is cell division, signal transduction or ageing – all these processes are affected by acetyl groups acting as molecular switches. Therefore, these switches may prove to be a crucial factor in the development of new therapies against diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s (Science, August 14th 2009). more

Axel Ullrich is the winner 2009 of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, which is endowed with 100 000 dollar. Ullrich, director of the research department “Molecular Biology” at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, received the prize for his pioneering research in molecular biology that enabled him to develop protein therapeutics for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including diabetes and cancer. more

Until now, extracting as many proteins as possible from biological samples has required a combination of several methods. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have now developed a new universally employable sample preparation method that combines the advantages of the usual methods and allows an unprecedented depth of proteome coverage. more

Several bacterial pathogens use toxins to manipulate human host cells, ultimately disturbing cellular signal transduction. Until now, however, scientists have been able to track down only a few of the proteins that interact with bacterial toxins in infected human cells. Now, researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch in Germany have identified 39 interaction partners of these toxins, using novel technology which allowed them to screen for large numbers of proteins simultaneously (Cell Host & Microbe, Vol. 5, Issue 4, 397-403)*. more

Prion diseases like the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease mainly appear spontaneously in humans. They are characterized by the aggregation of a misfolded isoform of the cellular prion protein. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the LMU Munich have now uncovered the cause of the misfolding: an oxidation within the prion molecule. more

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