Press releases - News from the MPI of Biochemistry

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Lighting up DNA-based nanostructures

April 24, 2018
Most people know DNA as the carrier of genetic information. However, scientists now use DNA – based on their physical properties – as basic building blocks to produce complex, nanometer-sized objects. This technique is called DNA origami. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have now for the first time used a new variant of super-resolution microscopy to visualize all the strands of a DNA origami structure. The method promises to optimize the design of such structures for specific biological and biophysical applications. The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.   [more]
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Making patterns robust

April 17, 2018
Vital processes such as cell division must be stable under various conditions. The correct  distribution of proteins in the cell is crucial here. In cooperation with colleagues from the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, researchers from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried, have now investigated which mechanisms are responsible for the pattern formation to become robust against variations in protein concentration.To do this, scientists used a combination of mathematical modeling and an experimental, minimal approach in the lab to understand the basic principles. The results were published in the journal PNAS. [more]
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Advanced ERC Grant for Brenda Schulman

April 16, 2018
Brenda Schulman, head of the department „Molecular Machines and Signaling“ at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried receives the Advanced Grant of the European Research Council. It comes with a funding of 2.2 million Euros over five years. Together with her team, Schulman wants to find out the numerous ways the ubiquitin-like protein NEDD8 activates hundreds of distinct but related ubiquitin ligase machineries. The understanding of these protein machineries on structural, functional, and cellular levels will help to understand a large family of regulatory complexes that controla major part of eukaryotic biology, like immunity or cell division and thereby plays a central role in many diseases. [more]
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Two molecular machines caught in the act with the electron microscope

March 13, 2018
Scientists at the MPI of Biochemistry have for the first time succeeded in determining the structure of the interaction of two large molecular machines. In cooperation with researchers from the Heidelberg University, they investigated the interaction between the ribosome and the exosome. Ribosomes use ribonucleic acid (RNA) as blueprint for the production of proteins. The exosome in turn is responsible for the degradation of RNA. The study of the interaction of two molecular machines using cryo-electron microscopy provides a better insight into the physiological function of such machines. The study was published in Science. [more]
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Decoding the structure of the huntingtin protein

February 21, 2018
25 years ago, the cause of Huntington's disease was discovered. Mutations on a single gene, the huntingtin gene, lead to an incorrect form of the correspondent protein. With the help of cryo-electron microscopy, the recently awarded Nobel Prize winning method, researchers have now decoded the three-dimensional, molecular structure of the healthy human huntingtin protein. This now enables its functional analysis. An improved understanding of the structure and the function of the huntingtin protein could contribute to the development of new treatment methods in the future. The work of the researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried and Ulm University has now been published in the journal Nature. [more]
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Leibniz Prize for Veit Hornung

December 20, 2017
The immunologist Veit Hornung receives the Leibniz Prize 2018 from the DFG. In his research activity, he elucidates central defense mechanisms of the innate immune system. The prize is the most important award for research excellence in German. Veit Hornung holds the Chair of Immunobiochemistry at LMU’s Gene Center. Since November 2017, Hornung is head of the research group „Molecular Mechanisms of Inflammation“ at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried as a Max Planck Fellow. [more]
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Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin

December 19, 2017
A new imaging method could put super-resolution microscopy within reach of most biologists - Cell biologists traditionally use fluorescent dyes to label and visualize cells and the molecules within them under a microscope. With different super-resolution microscopy methods, they can even light up single molecules and see their complex interactions with one another. However, the microscopy hardware required to do this is highly specialized, expensive, and requires operators to have unique skills; hence, such microscopes are relatively rare in laboratories around the world. [more]
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