Proteins

  • 3D Images of Cancer Cells in the Body: Medical Physicists from Halle Present new Method

    A picture of a tumor (green) generated with the newly developed technique. Jan Laufer

    Making tumour cells glow: Medical physicists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have developed a new method that can generate detailed three-dimensional images of the body's interior. This can be used to more closely investigate the development of cancer cells in the body. The research group presents its findings in "Communication Physics", a journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.

  • A Step Ahead in Pharmaceutical Research

    Novel sensors make it possible to measure the activation or deactivation of GPCRs with high-throughput methods. Graphic: Hannes Schihada

    Researchers of the University of Würzburg have developed a method that makes it possible to measure the activation of receptors in a very short time. This might speed up the development of new drugs. Hormones and other neurotransmitters, but also drugs, act upon receptors. “Their active substances bind to the receptors and modify the three-dimensional receptor arrangement regulating the downstream signal pathways,” says Hannes Schihada from the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Würzburg (JMU). 

  • Analysis of Complex Protein Interactions

    Structure of the HBZ protein. Based on PyMOL rendering of PDB.

    The composition of specific functional protein complexes in their cellular environment can now be analysed with unprecedented resolution. The team led by junior group leader Dr Julien Béthune at Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center has developed a new technique which allows the scientists to overcome a long-standing hurdle in molecular cell biology. The method called “split-BioID” allows them to analyse context-dependent protein complexes which could not be identified previously.

  • Bacteria Free Themselves with Molecular “Speargun”

    Macrophage infected with Francisella novicida (magenta) assembling a dynamic nano-speargun (green). University of Basel, Biozentrum

    Many bacteria are armed with nano-spearguns, which they use to combat unwelcome competitors or knockout host cells. The pathogen responsible for tularemia, a highly virulent infectious disease, uses this weapon to escape from its prison in cells defending the host. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel report on this bacterial strategy in the current issue of “Nature Communications”.

    Tularemia is an infectious disease that mostly affects rabbits and rodents, but also humans can become infected. The cause of this serious disease is the bacterium Francisella tularensis.

  • Basel Researchers Succeed in Cultivating Cartilage from Stem Cells

    Development of cartilage tissue from mesenchymal stem cells after eight weeks in vivo: Stable cartilage tissue, indicated by red staining (left), versus development towards bone tissue (right). Image: University of Basel, Department of Biomedicine

    Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS. Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration.

  • Biological system with light switch: new findings from Graz

    Schematic representation of the illumination of the sensor domain of a photo-receptor and the molecular propagation of the light signal to the effector (in red on the right-hand edge of the image). © TU Graz/IBC

    For the first time ever, researchers at TU Graz and the Medical University of Graz have managed to functionally characterise the three-dimensional interaction between red-light receptors and enzymatic effectors. The results, with implications for optogenetics, have been published in Science Advances. The aim of optogenetics is to control genetically modified cells using light. A team of Graz scientists led by Andreas Winkler from the Institute of Biochemistry at TU Graz have set a milestone in the future development of novel red-light regulated optogenetic tools for targeted cell stimulation.

  • Blood pressure medication paves the way for approaches to managing Barrett's syndrome

    Svein Olav Bratlie

    New ways of using mechanisms behind certain blood pressure medications may in the future spare some patient groups both discomfort and lifelong concern over cancer of the esophagus. This, in any case, is the goal of several studies of patients with Barrett's syndrome at Sahlgrenska Academy. “If we could filter out those who are not at greater risk, it would represent huge gains for both patients and health care providers,” says Svein Olav Bratlie, a researcher in gastro surgery and clinician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. It is estimated that between one and two percent of the Swedish population has Barrett's syndrome, a condition in which the membrane in the lower part of the esophagus becomes more like that of the intestine and more acid-resistant. Barrett's syndrome is preceded by the common reflux affliction that involves long-term leakage of stomach acid up into the esophagus.

  • Brought to Light – Chromobodies Reveal Changes in Endogenous Protein Concentration in Living Cells

    Antigen-Mediated-ChromoBody-Stabilization (AMCBS). NMI

    Scientists at the Natural and Medical Sciences Institute (NMI) in Reutlingen and the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen have developed new molecular probes to monitor and quantify changes in the concentration of endogenous proteins by live-cell fluorescence microscopy. In a study now published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, Keller et al. describe how fluorescently labeled intrabodies (so-called chromobodies) are stabilized in the presence of their target proteins. Based on this newly uncovered property of chromobodies, the authors present a broadly applicable strategy to optimize chromobodies in order to visualize and measure changes of endogenous target proteins within living cells. 

  • Cellular Valve Structure Opens Up Potential Novel Therapies

    Structure of a volume-regulated chloride channel (center: ribbon diagram, right: selectivity filter, left: regions with positively charged amino acids). Raimund Dutzler, UZH

    Biochemists at the University of Zurich have determined the detailed structure of a volume-regulated chloride channel. This cellular valve is activated in response to swelling to prevent the cell from bursting. The protein also plays an important role in the uptake of chemotherapeutics and the release of neurotransmitters after a stroke. The controlled regulation of its activity thus opens up a promising strategy for novel therapies.

  • Closing the Gate to Mitochondria

    Zoom-in of an electrospray capillary (left) transferring proteins into the orifice of a mass spectrometer (right). Using this technology, the scientists analyzed mitochondria with a "gate" closed for proteins (cartoon) at molecular level. Source: Christian D. Peikert

    A team of researchers develops a new method that enables the identification of proteins imported into mitochondria. Eukaryotic cells contain thousands of proteins, which are distributed to different cellular compartments with specific functions. A German-Swiss team of scientists led by Prof. Dr. Bettina Warscheid from the University of Freiburg and Prof. Dr. André Schneider from the University of Bern has developed the method "ImportOmics". This method enables the scientists to determine the localization of proteins that are imported via specific entry "gates" into distinct membrane-bound compartments, so-called organelles. Knowing the exact localization of individual proteins, the route they take to reach their destination, and the overall composition of cellular compartments is important for understanding fundamental mechanisms of cell biology. This is the prerequisite to understand disease mechanisms that rely on defective cellular functions. The scientists present their work in the current issue of the journal "Nature Communications".

  • Constricting without a string: Bacteria gone to the worms divide differently

    The rod-shaped bacteria densely populating the surface of the worm belong to the Gammaproteobacteria. These comprise members of our gut microbiome but also some serious pathogens. Nikolaus Leisch

    A new study provides fascinating insights into how bacteria divide. This shows not only how little we know about bacteria outside of the lab, but might also bring us one step closer towards the development of new antibiotics.

  • Designer Cells: Artificial Enzyme can Activate a Gene Switch

    Artificial metalloenzyme penetrates a mammalian cell, where it accelerates the release of a hormone. This activates a gene switch which then leads to the production of a fluorescent indicator protein. University of Basel, Yasunori Okamoto

    Complex reaction cascades can be triggered in artificial molecular systems: Swiss scientists have constructed an enzyme than can penetrate a mammalian cell and accelerate the release of a hormone. This then activates a gene switch that triggers the creation of a fluorescent protein. The findings were reported by researchers from the NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering, led by the University of Basel and ETH Zurich.

  • DigiWest® multiplex protein profiling technology published in Nature Communications

    The NMI is a service provider for Micro Channel Systems. © NMI

    Reutlingen, Germany, September 26, 2016 – The Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen (NMI), a private research foundation, and its contract research provider NMI TT Pharmaservices today announced the publication of their proprietary DigiWest® protein profiling method in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications.

  • DNA Origami: Building Virus-sized Structures and Saving Costs Through Mass Production

    Self-organization forms „gear-wheels“ from V-shaped building blocks, constructed using DNA origami techniques. In a next step, these gears form tubes with a size comparable with virus capsids. Hendrik Dietz / TUM

    It is the double strands of our genes that make them so strong. Using a technique known as DNA origami, biophysicist Hendrik Dietz has been building nanometer-scale objects for several years at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Now Dietz and his team have not only broken out of the nanometer realm to build larger objects, but have also cut the production costs a thousand-fold. These innovations open a whole new frontier for the technology.

  • DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

    A complex tag for DNA-repair: 3D cartoon showing the linkage of ADP-ribose to the amino acid serine in a protein (turquoise). Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing

    Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins” to the damaged parts within the DNA. To do this, an elaborate protein language has evolved. Now scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing have discovered the way a new letter of this alphabet is used in cells. This novel protein modification, called serine ADP-ribosylation, has been overlooked by scientists for decades. This finding reveals how important discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”. Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”.

  • Enough is enough - stem cell factor Nanog knows when to slow down

    STILT generates simulated protein expression of dividing cells based on measured data and a dynamic model. Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    The transcription factor Nanog plays a crucial role in the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells. Previously unclear was how its protein abundance is regulated in the cells. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with colleagues from ETH Zürich, now report in ‘Cell Systems’ that the more Nanog there is on hand, the less reproduction there is. Every stem cell researcher knows the protein Nanog* because it ensures that these all-rounders continue to renew. A controversial debate revolved around how the quantity of Nanog protein in the cell is regulated.

  • EU funds research on biofuels and infectious diseases

    Salmolla. © Goethe University Frankfurt.

    FRANKFURT. Two ERC Advanced Investigator Grants of the European Research Council to the amount of € 2.5 million each are going to researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt. Biochemist and physician Professor Ivan Dikic and microbiologist Professor Volker Müller are very honoured that their pioneering research projects have been selected for this substantial financial support.

    Volker Müller is one of the leading microbiologists worldwide in the field of microbial metabolism of microbes that grow in the absence of oxygen. His project centres on the production of biofuels with the help of bacteria that can use carbon dioxide as feedstock.

  • Gelatine instead of forearm

    The EMPA skin model: gelatine on a cotton substrate. EMPA

    The characteristics of human skin are heavily dependent on the hydration of the tissue - in simple terms, the water content. This also changes its interaction with textiles. Up to now, it has only been possible to determine the interaction between human skin and textiles by means of clinical trials on human subjects. Now, EMPA researchers have developed an artificial gelatine-based skin model that simulates human skin almost perfectly. The moisture content of the human skin influences its characteristics. The addition of moisture softens the skin and changes its appearance. This can be seen in DIY work for example: a thin film of perspiration helps to provide better grip when using a hammer or screwdriver; however, excessive perspiration can make the tools slip.

  • Genregulation: In Form für den richtigen Schnitt

    Bindung der großen Untereinheit von U2AF an die Vorläufer-Boten-mRNA Bild: Christoph Hohmann / NIM

    Bevor genetische Information in Proteine umgesetzt wird, entfernt eine komplexe molekulare Maschine – das Spleißosom – nicht benötigte Sequenzen. Dabei spielt dessen Struktur eine wichtige Rolle, wie LMU-Wissenschaftler zeigen. Ribonukleinsäure – kurz RNA – übermittelt die in den Genen gespeicherten Erbinformationen und damit die Bauanleitung für Proteine. Bei der Genabschrift im Zellkern entsteht zuerst eine Vorläufer-Boten RNA (mRNA), aus der durch eine komplexe molekulare Maschine im Zellkern – das Spleißosom –unterschiedliche nicht benötigte Abschnitte herausgeschnitten und entfernt werden. Dieser Vorgang wird als alternatives Spleißen bezeichnet und spielt für die Genregulation eine wichtige Rolle, denn jeder der zurechtgeschnittenen mRNA-Stränge liefert den Bauplan für ein anderes Protein – ein Gen kann also in mehrere Proteine mit unterschiedlicher Funktion umgesetzt werden.

  • High-speed camera snaps bio-switch in action

    The riboswitch 'button' before, during and after coupling of the ligand (green), from left to right. Credit: Yun-Xing Wang and Jason Stagno, National Cancer Institute

    X-ray experiment opens new route to study biochemical reactions. With a powerful X-ray camera, scientists have watched a genetic switch at work for the first time. The study led by Yun-Xing Wang from the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. reveals the ultrafast dynamics of a riboswitch, a gene regulator that can switch individual genes on and off. The innovative technique used for this investigation opens up a completely new avenue for studying numerous fundamental biochemical reactions, as the team reports in a fast-track publication in the journal Nature.