Institute of Biochemistry - Welcome

Upcoming Seminars

27.11.2014 / HPM D7.2 /

2 pm

Dr. Caren Norden

'The diverse roles of the centrosome in neuroepithelial development and Maintenance'

05.12.2014 / HPM D7.2 / 12 pm

Dr. David Barford

'Molecular basis for degron recognition, protein ubiquitination, and regulation by the anaphase promoting complex'

Claus M. Azzalin

Azzalin Group

The physical ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes chemically resemble the ends of DNA double stranded breaks. Yet, they do not trigger a DNA damage response because they are ‘capped’ by specialized ribonucleoprotein structures named telomeres. Telomeres comprise repetitive DNA sequences, protein complexes and ‘telomeric repeat-containing RNA’ (TERRA) molecules. When telomere integrity is compromised, a severe DNA damage response is evoked at chromosome ends, triggering apoptosis or cellular senescence, and in some instances chromosomal rearrangements. Our laboratory studies how TERRA contributes to maintaining the structure and function of telomeres. Because of the intimate connection between telomere maintenance, cancer and cellular senescence, our research should contribute to the current knowledge of cancer and senescence etiology, and open the way to the identification of new drug targets for treating cancer and age-associated diseases. More...

Yves Barral

Barral Group

We use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as our main model to study how asymmetric cell division contributes to the generation of cell diversity in eukaryotes. We follow three axes of research. First, we investigate how the mitotic spindle senses and orients along the polarity axis of the cell to reproducibly segregate its oldest centrosome to the bud. Second, we investigate the role of diffusion barriers in the coordination of cell polarity with the plane of division, and in the asymmetric segregation of fate determinants between mother and bud. Third, we are particularly interested in understanding the nature and segregation of age determinants. This leads us to investigate the intriguing possibility that part of the aging process may consist in the accumulation of memory traces by the yeast mother cell. More...

Ari Helenius

Helenius Group

Our group studies interactions that occur between animal viruses and their host cells during the early infectious cycle; how virus particles bind to cells, how they are internalized by endocytosis, how they are transported to various organelles such as endosomes and the endoplasmic reticulum, how they penetrate into the cytosol, and how the genome is uncoated. Since viruses take advantage of host cell factors and processes during their entry, we combine virological techniques with cell biological approaches, molecular biology, advanced imaging, and systems biology. The virus systems presently analyzed include enveloped and non-enveloped viruses; influenza virus, vaccinia virus, uukuniemi virus, semliki forest virus, human cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and simian virus 40. In addition, we study the dynamics of caveolae and their role in endocytosis. More...

Benoît Kornmann

Kornmann Group

Cells are complex entities that contain several subcompartments, called organelles. These compartments need to exchange informations and nutrients to ensure functional coordination of the cellular activity.

The Kornmann laboratory studies the communication between these various organelles. In particular we are interested in the cross-talk between two of these: the endoplasmic reticulum and the mitochondria.

We use the powers of yeast genetics as a tool to discover important cellular players involved in connecting both organelles and we study these components using state-of-the-art biochemical methodologies. Finally, we apply the knowledge gathered in yeast to higher eukaryotes, to gain invaluable insight in the physiology of the human cell. More...

Ulrike Kutay

Kutay Group

Research in our lab is centered on the structure, function, biogenesis and dynamics of the mammalian cell nucleus. A main focus is given to unravel the molecular mechanism of nuclear envelope breakdown at the onset of open mitosis. Second, we investigate the biogenesis of the nuclear envelope constituents such as the assembly of nuclear pore complexes and the sorting of membrane proteins to the inner nuclear membrane. Third, we characterize structure and function of LINC complexes, which connect the nuclear envelope to cytoskeletal components and serve as devices for force transmission across the nuclear boundary. And finally, as the second major topic, we seek to understand the assembly of mammalian ribosomes, giving specific emphasis to the role and crosstalk of signalling pathways that coordinate ribosome synthesis with input from external and internal cues. These questions are addressed by a combination of quantitative microscopy, RNAi screening, and biochemistry, exploiting powerful in vitro systems that we have developed. More...

Joao Matos
Joao Matos

Matos Group

The life cycle of sexually reproducing eukaryotes depends on two specialized chromosome segregation programs: mitosis and meiosis. Whereas mitosis drives cellular proliferation and the stable propagation of the genome, meiosis promotes genetic diversity and the formation of haploid gametes, which combine at fertilization to restore the diploid state. Remarkably, both genome stability and genetic diversity/haploidisation depend on the cell’s ability to repair damaged chromosomes using homologous recombination.

We study how cells rewire their DNA repair machinery in order to: 1) promote genetic diversity and haploidisation during meiosis; 2) prevent genomic instability during mitotic proliferation; 3) ensure the efficient disengagement of recombination intermediates prior chromosome segregation and cell division. More...

Vikram Panse

Panse Group

In all living cells, the ribosome is responsible for the final step of decoding genetic information into proteins. We exploit the powerful combination of genetic, biochemical and high-throughput cell-biological approaches available in the model organism budding yeast to unravel and investigate at the molecular level “maturation steps” which funnel ribosomal subunits into translation. More...

Matthias Peter

Peter Group

Regulation of cell growth and division by selective degradation mechanisms. Every living organism requires a tight coordination of cell growth and cell division, and defects in these regulatory systems are intimately linked to metabolic disorders and cellular transformation. Cell growth is manifested by an increase in cell mass, and thus involves the homeostasis and regulation of metabolic pathways, ribosome biogenesis and protein translation, and catabolic pathways including autophagy and ubiquitin-dependent degradation. Cell division requires the precise duplication of chromosomes and their partitioning between two daughter cells. The morphological transitions that lead to chromosome segregation during mitosis need to be coordinated in space and time with subsequent cytoplasm separation during cytokinesis. However, the molecular mechanisms that govern cell growth and division, and the different intra- and extracellular signals that regulate these pathways, are still poorly understood. More...

Paola Picotti

Picotti Group

In our laboratory we study the molecular effects of protein aggregation in cells. A number of human diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, are associated to the intracellular deposition of specific aggregation-prone proteins, which are critically involved in cellular dysfunction. Characterizing the generic and specific cellular responses to such proteins is of crucial importance to understanding disease pathogenesis and developing novel therapeutics. We apply a combination of new generation proteomic and phosphoproteomic approaches and fluorescence microscopy to studying the proteome-wide responses of cells to the intracellular accumulation of protein aggregates. In addition, we use targeted mass spectrometric assays, based on selected reaction monitoring (SRM) and SWATH-MS, to probe the capability of chemical and genetic modulators of reverting the toxic effects of protein aggregates. More...

Karsten Weis

Weis Group

The interest of our laboratory is centered on very fundamental questions in eukaryotic cell biology: how are macromolecules properly localized within a cell, and how do eukaryotes take advantage of transport and compartmentalization to regulate their gene expression programs? Our work particularly focuses on studying transport processes between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. The exchange of macromolecules between the nucleus and the cytoplasm is absolutely essential to establish and maintain order in eukaryotic cells, and constitutes an important step in the regulation of gene expression. Our laboratory combines genetic, biochemical, cell biological and biophysical approaches in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and in metazoan cells to characterize and analyze the molecular machinery that is responsible for the transport of macromolecules into and out of the nucleus.


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