Structural Research

For proteins, form and function go hand in hand: Each protein has a defined three-dimensional structure without which it cannot do its job. Defective structures can lead to malfunctions and to the development of diseases. Several research teams at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) are therefore studying the spatial structure of proteins. The findings of their studies are also interesting from a medical perspective and in ideal cases may lead to the development of new therapies.

Living cells are highly complex entities built from thousands of different macromolecules with many unexplored areas. Proteins often form large complexes which play an important role, but they are fragile outside of the cells. Wolfgang Baumeister and his team investigate the architecture of proteins in their native environment and evaluate how they cooperate with other cell components.

Molecular Structural Biology

Cells - Live and in 3D

Living cells are highly complex entities built from thousands of different macromolecules with many unexplored areas. Proteins often form large complexes which play an important role, but they are fragile outside of the cells. Wolfgang Baumeister and his team investigate the architecture of proteins in their native environment and evaluate how they cooperate with other cell components. [more]
The DNA in our cells is constantly under attack: high-energy radiation, ultraviolet rays or toxic chemicals can damage and even break DNA. Because such defects can lead to serious diseases like cancer or cause birth defects, cells try to repair damage as soon as possible. Christian Biertümpfel and his research group want to elucidate these repair mechanisms.

Molecular Mechanisms of DNA Repair

DNA Doctors

The DNA in our cells is constantly under attack: high-energy radiation, ultraviolet rays or toxic chemicals can damage and even break DNA. Because such defects can lead to serious diseases like cancer or cause birth defects, cells try to repair damage as soon as possible. Christian Biertümpfel and his research group want to elucidate these repair mechanisms. [more]
In eukaryotic cells, there is a continuous exchange of information between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. To ensure that no errors occur during these complex processes, the cell has a highly sophisticated quality control system at its disposal. The scientists in the research department led by Elena Conti investigate how information exchange and how error detection and elimination work inside the cell.

Structural Cell Biology

mRNA Quality Control inside the Cell

In eukaryotic cells, there is a continuous exchange of information between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. To ensure that no errors occur during these complex processes, the cell has a highly sophisticated quality control system at its disposal. The scientists in the research department led by Elena Conti investigate how information exchange and how error detection and elimination work inside the cell. [more]
Molecular machines must perform several tasks in the cell. Their complex structure is comprised of many individual pieces, which can now be identified thanks to state-of-the-art methods. However, it remains unclear how they fit together exactly. This is what Friedrich Förster and his team want to investigate.

Modeling of Protein Complexes

3D-Puzzle in the Cell

Molecular machines must perform several tasks in the cell. Their complex structure is comprised of many individual pieces, which can now be identified thanks to state-of-the-art methods. However, it remains unclear how they fit together exactly. This is what Friedrich Förster and his team want to investigate. [more]

Cellular Biochemistry

It is a Matter of Form

Proteins acquire their correct conformation and can function properly only through folding. Misfolding can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. But who ensures that nothing goes wrong? Franz-Ulrich Hartl and his team are interested both in the underlying mechanisms as well as the structure of the involved molecules. [more]
Proteins can fulfill their complex biological functions only if they have acquired their correct three-dimensional structure. The folding process is mediated by molecular chaperones. These can also assist in re-creating proteins in the test tube. Manajit Hayer-Hartl and her team have succeeded in reconstructing the key protein of photosynthesis.

Chaperonin-Assisted Protein Folding

Rebuilding a Protein in the Test Tube

Proteins can fulfill their complex biological functions only if they have acquired their correct three-dimensional structure. The folding process is mediated by molecular chaperones. These can also assist in re-creating proteins in the test tube. Manajit Hayer-Hartl and her team have succeeded in reconstructing the key protein of photosynthesis. [more]
Tiny hair-like structures (cilia) are found on the surface of most cells in the body, where they serve to move the cell, process external signals and coordinate the correct arrangement of the inner organs during development of the organism. To do this, cilia have to be supplied with the right building blocks, a process known as intraflagellar transport. How this transport system works is the primary research aim of Esben Lorentzen and his group.

Structural Biology of Cilia

Delivery Service for Cilia

Tiny hair-like structures (cilia) are found on the surface of most cells in the body, where they serve to move the cell, process external signals and coordinate the correct arrangement of the inner organs during development of the organism. To do this, cilia have to be supplied with the right building blocks, a process known as intraflagellar transport. How this transport system works is the primary research aim of Esben Lorentzen and his group. [more]
Even cells “eat”, by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings. If cells want to absorb large molecules or even whole cells, these are enclosed in round membrane vesicles and transported into the cell’s interior. This important transport mechanism is called endocytosis and is essential for the survival of the cell. Naoko Mizuno and her team are seeking to elucidate, how these vesicles evolve from the membrane.

Cellular and Membrane Trafficking

From Flat to Curved

Even cells “eat”, by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings. If cells want to absorb large molecules or even whole cells, these are enclosed in round membrane vesicles and transported into the cell’s interior. This important transport mechanism is called endocytosis and is essential for the survival of the cell. Naoko Mizuno and her team are seeking to elucidate, how these vesicles evolve from the membrane. [more]
 
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