Press Page Matthias Mann

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.

The scientists were able to identify numerous proteins modified by the binding of an acetyl group. This affects many more proteins than previously supposed (blue: new identified proteins; gray: known proteins).

Every cell type has its specific protein equipment. It changes continuously because proteins are formed, modified or degraded. But when are these proteins generated? This depends on the genes active at that point of time. They contain the information about the proteins that have to be produced. But not all modifications of proteins are visible on the genetic level: Many changes take place after the production of the protein, for example by the addition of a phosphate or an acetyl group. Matthias Mann and his colleagues discovered that such modifications have an influence on all areas of life of the cell. They now use this knowledge to investigate diseases such as cancer.

Protein equipment of cancer cells decoded

The scientists developed SILAC, a method to quantitatively compare different cell phases and thus analyze the interplay of the proteins. Cells are “fed” with labeled amino acids, which they integrate into their proteins. A comparison with “unlabeled” cells shows changes and modifications. In doing so, Mann was able to identify more than 10,000 proteins of cancer cells and could demonstrate how they change over time.

Switching from an ordinary car to a race car

During mass spectrometry, protein samples are positively charged via electro spray and then pulled through an electric field. Afterwards, the mass spectrometer separates the components according to their size and charge. Using MaxQuant, a software developed in the department, the scientists are able to interpret and to analyze the protein components much faster and more accurately than with previous methods.


Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have for the first time uncovered the proteome of 100 organisms from all domains of life. more

Chronobiologists show in two articles in the journal Science how critical the sleep-wake cycle is for protein and phosphorylation dynamics in synapses to ultimately regulate its activity. more

The European Patent Office has nominated scientist Matthias Mann from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry as one of the three finalists in the field of research. The Inventors' Award is presented… more

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