Biochemistry

Biochemistry, sometimes called biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. By controlling information flow through biochemical signaling and the flow of chemical energy through metabolism, biochemical processes give rise to the complexity of life.

  • Molecular Force Sensors

    The development of novel, fluorescence-based biosensors, which unfold in response to mechanical loads, allows the evaluation of molecular forces across specific structures within living cells. © MPI für Biochemie

    Proteins are often considered as molecular machines. To understand how they work, it is not enough to visualize the involved proteins under the microscope. Wherever machines are at work mechanical forces occur, which in turn influence biological processes. These extremely small intracellular forces can be measured with the help of molecular force sensors. Now researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried have developed molecular probes that can measure forces across multiple proteins with high resolution in cells. The results of their work were published in the journal Nature Methods.

  • Molekulare Kamera macht Substanzen in Zellen sichtbar

    Rädertierchen frisst Pantoffeltierchen: Die Abbildungen a, c, e und g zeigen jeweils drei verschiedene Substanzen (in rot, grün bzw. blau), die in den vier Pantoffeltierchen vorgefunden wurden. Abbildung: Kompauer et al., Nature Methods

    Neues Massenspektrometer an der Universität Gießen ermöglicht vielfältige Forschungen in den Lebenswissenschaften – Veröffentlichung in „Nature Methods“. Eine weltweit einzigartige an der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (JLU) entwickelte Untersuchungsmethode vereint die Vorteile von Mikroskop und Massenspektrometer: Mit dem neuen Gerät, das die Arbeitsgruppe des Chemikers Prof. Dr. Bernhard Spengler in der aktuellen Ausgabe von „Nature Methods“ vorstellt, lassen sich unzählige Stoffe dank Massenspektrometrie in biologischem Gewebe nachweisen und in ihrem chemischen Aufbau entschlüsseln.

  • Molekulares Daumenkino: Momentaufnahmen aus dem Inneren der Zelle

    Forscher beobachten, wie sich die Struktur der RNA-Polymerase bei der Arbeit verändert

    Einem Forschungsteam um den Braunschweiger Physikochemiker Prof. Philip Tinnefeld und der Biochemikerin Prof. Dina Grohmann ist es gelungen, Veränderungen in der RNA-Polymerase während ihrer Arbeit sichtbar zu machen. Im Milliardstel Meter Bereich haben sie dafür Farbstoffe auf zwölf Proteinen platziert, deren Helligkeit sich je nach ihrer Entfernung zueinander verändert. Vergleichbar mit einem Daumenkino, konnte das Forschungsteam mit seinen Aufnahmen außerdem nachweisen, dass die Arbeit der RNA-Polymerase durch verschiedene Faktoren gesteuert und beeinflusst wird.

  • MPI and MIT researchers prove fast microbial evolutionary bursts exist

    Bacterial horizontal gene transfer.

    Remember all those different species of Galapagos finches? They stem from an evolutionary burst, through a process called adaptive radiation. Now a study published in Nature reveals that microbes can do the same.

  • Multifunctional Nano-Sized Drug Carriers Based on Reactive Polypept(o)ides

    Secondary structure formation enables morphology control while reactive groups in the polypeptide segment allow for adjustment of function. ill./©:Kristina Klinker/Olga Schäfer

    In cooperation with researchers from the University of Tokyo and Gutenberg Research Awardee Prof. Kazunori Kataoka, Chemists from Mainz have been able to demonstrate that reactive polypept(o)ides constitute ideal building blocks to control morphology and function of carrier systems in a simple but precise manner.

  • Multiplexed Morse signals from cells

    How many sorts, in how many copies? The biochemical processes that take place in cells require specific molecules to congregate and interact in specific locations. A novel type of high-resolution microscopy developed at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried and Harvard University already allows researchers to visualize these molecular complexes and identify their constituents. Now they can also determine the numbers of each molecular species in these structures. Such quantitative information is valuable for the understanding of cellular mechanisms and how they are altered in disease states. The new technique is described in Nature Methods.

  • Münster researchers make ongoing inflammation in the human brain visible

    Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have visualized inflammation in the brain of mice (l.) and of MS patients (r.). To do so, they labelled specific enzymes (MMPs). Reprinted with permission from Gerwien and Hermann et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 364ra152 (2016) 9 November 2016

    For the first time, Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at Münster University have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. The ultimate aim in biomedical research is the transfer of results from experiments carried out in animals to patients. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at the University of Münster have succeeded in doing so. For the first time, they have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). This involved specialists from different disciplines working together in a unique way over several years, combining immunology, neurology and imaging technologies ranging from microscopy to whole-body imaging.

  • Nanobauteile aus DNA

    Blümchenketten-Rotaxane als molekulare Führungslager

  • Nanocapsules Enable Cell-Inspired Metabolic Reactions

    Schematic illustration of the bio-catalytic nanocompartment with encapsulated enzyme phosphoglucomutase for the conversion of glucose-1-phosphate into the desired product glucose-6-phosphate. University of Basel

    Researchers at the University of Basel succeeded in developing capsules capable of producing the bio-molecule glucose-6-phosphate that plays an important role in metabolic processes. The researchers were able to produce the metabolite in conditions very similar to the biochemical reaction inside natural cells. The results have been published in the scientific journal Chemical Communications.

  • Neu entdeckter Schalter in der Zelle unterstützt globale Umprogrammierung der Genexpression

    Der Mechanismus zur Steuerung des globalen Abbaus von mRNA

    Steuerung des globalen Abbaus von mRNA durch Acetylierung von RNA-abbauenden Enzymen

  • New Approach: Researchers Succeed in Directly Labelling and Detecting an Important RNA Modification

    Main authors of the study (from l.): Molecular biologist Dr. Sebastian Leidel, biochemist Katja Hartstock (lead author), molecular biologist Benedikt Nilges und biochemist Prof. Andrea Rentmeister. ©WWU/E. Wibberg

    Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence at University of Münster have developed a new method enabling them to locate important modifications to messenger RNA. This is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between biochemists and molecular biologists. It has been published in “Angewandte Chemie” (International Edition).

  • New chemistry of life

    Lung tissue during legionellosis.

    FRANKFURT. The attachment of ubiquitin was long considered as giving the „kiss of death“, labelling superfluous proteins for disposal within a cell. However, by now it has been well established that ubiquitin fulfils numerous additional duties in cellular signal transduction. A team of scientists under the lead of Ivan Dikic, Director of the Institute of Biochemistry II at Goethe University Frankfurt, has now discovered a novel mechanism of ubiquitination, by which Legionella bacteria can seize control over their host cells. Legionella causes deadly pneumonia in immunocompromised patients. A novel ubiquitination mechanism explains pathogenic effects of Legionella infection. First results hint towards a broader role in regulating many life processes.

  • New Defense Mechanism Against Oxygen Radicals Discovered

    A solution of isolated and purified superoxide oxidase which was used in the laboratory for biochemical experiments. © Christoph von Ballmoos

    Oxygen radicals occur as a by-product when living beings burn carbohydrates or fat. They are suspected of accelerating the ageing process in humans and animals, and to be partly responsible for severe illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or certain types of cancer. Researchers at the University of Bern and the University of Stockholm have now discovered a so far unknown defense mechanism against oxygen radicals which could serve as a base for various medications.

  • New discovery increases understanding of how plants and bacteria see light

    Plants, bacteria and fungi react to light with light-sensitive proteins. Scientists from the University of Gothenburg and their Finnish colleagues from University of Jyväskylä have now determined the inner workings of one of these proteins. The results have been published in the most recent issue of Science Advances.

  • New mechanism activates the immune system against tumour cells

    New mechanism activates the immune system against tumour cells | The new function of STAT1 can be a decisive factor for immune therapy of cancer says Veronika Sexl. Michael Bernkopf/Vetmeduni Vienna

    Only when cancer cells escape the surveillance by the immune system can a tumour grow. It is currently one challenge in cancer research to activate the body's natural defences to eliminate tumour cells. Veronika Sexl, head of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, has now discovered with her team a surprising new function for the signalling molecule STAT1 in immune cells. This previously unknown feature could pave the way to a new therapeutic approach to immunological cancer therapy. The study results were published in the journal ‘OncoImmunology’.

  • New process for cell transfection in high-throughput screening

    So far, the established methods for an efficient and cell-preserving transfection in high-throughput screening lead to unsatisfactory results. Within the scope of a project of the Industrial Joint Research (IFG), the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and its partners succeeded in developing a functional model for a gold nanoparticle-based laser transfection in high-throughput.

  • New Technology for Enzyme Design

    The surface of the enzyme levansucrase has been redesigned to produce sugar polymers. Picture: AK Seibel

    Scientists at the University of Würzburg have chemically modified the enzyme levansucrase using a new method. The enzyme can now produce sugar polymers that are exciting for applications in the food industry and medicine. Enzymes are tools of nature that accelerate almost all biochemical reactions in living cells as biological catalysts.

  • Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

    Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.

  • Operation of ancient biological clock uncovered

    Cooling down the molecular clock of cyanobacteria puts its cogwheels to rest. It allows to visualize details of their appearance and assembly by cryo-electron microscopy. Illustration: P. Lössl

    A team of Dutch and German researchers under the leadership of Albert Heck and Friedrich Förster has discovered the operation of one of the oldest biological clocks in the world, which is crucial for life on earth as we know it. The researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry and the Utrecht University applied a new combination of cutting-edge research techniques. They discovered how the biological clock in cyanobacteria works in detail. Important to understand life, because cyanobacteria were the first organisms on earth producing oxygen via photosynthesis. The results of their research were published in Science.

  • Protein Pairs Make Cells Remember

    Protein Pairs Make Cells Remember | Cells with protein pairs store information for the long term (blue). Cells with single proteins do not display persistent memory (red and cyan). University of Basel, Biozentrum

    Even single cells are able to remember information if they receive the order from their proteins. Researchers at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum have discovered that proteins form pairs to give the signal for storing information in the cell’s memory. The results of the study have now been published in “Cell Reports”.