Prof. Petra Schwille, PhD
Prof. Petra Schwille, PhD
Phone:+49 89 8578-2900Fax:+49 89 8578-2903
Silke Leuze-Bütün
Assistant to Petra Schwille
Phone:+49 89 8578-2901Fax:+49 89 8578-2903

Postal Address:

Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry
Dept. Cellular and Molecular Biophysics
Am Klopferspitz 18
D-82152 Martinsried



What keeps us on the go?
Related to our latest paper at JCB read Kendall Powell's interview with Petra here.


12.02.2014, BR-alpha

alpha-Forum: Petra Schwille

Research Department "Cellular and Molecular Biophysics"

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Our ambition is to quantitatively understand living systems on the scale of individually active and interactive molecules such as proteins, lipids and nucleic acids. We primarily employ single molecule fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, supplemented by force microscopy to achieve resolution far below the diffraction limit.

Although our methods are tailored to investigate single molecules even in complex environments such as living cells and embryos, we found that for a better understanding of underlying basic principles of biological phenomena, it is indispensable to reconstitute selected subsystems in biomimetic environments, and investigate them under well-defined conditions. Therefore, we follow a bottom-up approach of minimal systems in the framework of synthetic biology.

As a first step towards elucidating fundamental phenomena, such as self-organization and pattern formation, we focus on the study of membrane proteins in controlled lipid environments to better comprehend the relevance of local lipid structures in cellular membrane transformations. We utilize a selection of model membrane systems, to which we anchor cytoskeletal elements and other membrane-transforming protein machineries. The very far goal of such approaches could be the in vitro reconstitution of a self-replicating biomimetic system.

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