The DynaMem Consortium

Speakers
Group Leaders
Project Management



Speakers

 

Prof. Dr. Enrico Schleiff

Institute for Molecular Biosciences
Plant Cell Physiology
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Biozentrum, Campus Riedberg
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Email: schleiff at bio.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

The Schleiff Lab focuses on fundamental questions of protein and organelle homeostasis in plant cells. Plant cells reveal a high complexity with respect to cellular compartmentalization and intracellular dynamics, and many problems resulting from this high complexity still have to be addressed. How are proteins synthesized at the ribosomes guided to different cellular organelles? Which mechanisms are responsible for the targeting to the right destinations within cells? What regulates the dynamic of the position and shape of organelles like chloroplasts, mitochondria or the endoplasmatic reticulum? Associated with these questions we investigate the transport of macromolecules, like proteins and lipids, across and in membranes surrounding the different cellular compartments as well as the whole cell. To prevent uncontrolled transport of small molecules through the membrane, the membrane has to feature ingenious security systems that need to ne discovered. The spectrum of our work ranges from the investigation of the structure and function of single proteins over the analysis of energetic processes in isolated membranes (, and of evolutionary processes, to genetic analysis of environmentally regulated processes in plants using the model systems Arabidopsis thaliana, Pisum sativum or Solanum lycopersicum.

   

 


Prof. Dr. Achilleas Frangakis

Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Institute of Biophysics
BMLS/, Campus Riedberg
Max-von-Laue-Str. 15
D-60438 Frankfurt am Main
Email: frangak at biophysik.org
Web: Homepage

The main focus of the group is to reveal the macromolecular organisation of living cells by means of cryo-electron tomography. Cryo-electron tomography is the only technique that can obtain molecular resolution images of intact cells in a quasi-native environment. The tomograms contain an imposing amount of information; they are essentially a three-dimensional map of the cellular proteome and depict the whole network of macromolecular interactions. Information mining algorithms exploit structural data from various techniques, identify distinct macromolecules and computationally fit atomic resolution structures in the cellular tomograms, thereby bridging the resolution gap.


 


Group Leaders



Dr. Tristan Bereau

Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research
Ackermannweg 10
55128 Mainz
Germany
Email: Bereau at mpip-mainz.mpg.de
Web: Homepage

The group Bereau aims at exploring the diversity of small organic molecules by a combination of high-throughput multiscale simulations and data-driven approaches. Thus, the project rounds off efforts made at the MPI-P’s different research groups to develop structure-property relationships in soft matter. The findings will foster a better understanding of different organic molecules to then be able to develop new pharmaceutical drugs based on this knowledge.

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Prof. Dr. Helge Bode

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Institute for Molecular Biosciences
Biozentrum/Campus Riedberg
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: h.bode at bio.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

 

Why do bacteria produce natural substances, and which genes are responsible for this process? Professor Helge Bode and his team are searching for the answers to these questions using biochemical analytical methods on different bacteria. Among other research areas, they focus on insect-pathogenic bacteria. Due to their toxic metabolic products, bacteria such as Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus have a deadly effect on soil-dwelling insect larvae. They enter the bodies of the insect larvae by means of their symbiosis with roundworms (nematodes), in whose intestines they live. The bacterial toxins are analysed regarding their structure and biological activity. Additionally, their biosynthesis is studied on the molecular level, and his group also assesses whether the biosynthesis can be manipulated to the extent that these bacteria produce novel, even more effective substances. The results of Bode's research might serve as a basis for the industrial development of antibiotics, biological pesticides or fungicide production. Since March 2009, Bode's research has focused on the question of whether natural substances could be used in the quest for therapeutically active substances that could be used to treat rare tropical diseases. This research has been a part of one of the European Community's ongoing international research projects.

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Prof. Dr. Ivan Dikic

Institute of Biochemistry II
University Hospital Frankfurt
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Theodor-Stern-Kai 7 / Building 75
60590 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: Dikic at biochem2.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

Research in the Dikic group is centered around the two major cellular quality control pathways: the ubiquitin system and autophagy. As such they provide protection against rapid aging and various human diseases and are involved in almost all cellular signaling processes.
Ubiquitin (Ub) is a highly conserved 76-amino acid polypeptide that is covalently attached to target proteins through a universally conserved three-step enzymatic process involving ubiquitin activating (E1), ubiquitin conjugating (E2) and ubiquitin ligating (E3) enzymes. Proteins can be modified by one (mono-ubiquitination) or several (multi-ubiquitination) single ubiquitin molecule(s). In addition, polyubiquitination of substrates occurs by the conjugation of ubiquitin proteins through one of its 7 lysine residues (K6, K11, K27, K29, K33, K48 and 63) or the N-terminal Methionine (M1) forming ubiquitin chains. Each type of Ub linkage is specifically recognised by specialised ubiquitin binding domains (UBD). To date, 20 families of UBDs have been characterized according to their specificity for Ub linkages.
Autophagy is a lysosome-mediated intracellular degradation pathway, which involves the formation of double-membrane vesicles (autophagosomes) that sequester portions of the cytoplasm or organelles and eventually fuse with the lysosome, where their cargo is degraded (figure 2). At first, autophagy was assumed to be a non-selective process to generate essential nutrients and building blocks required during cell starvation. However, during the last years, it became clear that autophagy is a tightly regulated, selective process that enables the specific degradation of damaged organelles, such as mitochondria (“mitophagy”), endoplasmic reticulum (“ER-phagy”) or invaded pathogens (“xenophagy”), maintaining cellular homeostasis.

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Prof. Dr. Simone Fulda

Institute for Experimental Tumor Research  in Paediatrics
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Komturstr. 3a
60528 Frankfurt/Main
Germany
Email: Simone.Fulda at kgu.de
Web: Homepage

The Fulda lab investigates the molecular mechanisms why apoptosis in tumor cells is out of function. The aim is to find drug treatments, experimental therapy strategies, and molecular mechanisms of a therapy response to set the programmed cell death back into full function in tumor cells.

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Prof. Dr. Martin Grininger

Institute for Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
Max-von-Laue-Strasse 5, 2.630
60438  Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: Grininger at chemie.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

The underlying goal of our research is to provide understanding of the functional mechanisms of proteins to finally reprogram their reaction modes. Specifically, we aim at using type I fatty acid synthases (FAS) and type I polyketide synthases (PKS) as multistep catalysts for directed product synthesis. The synthetic concept of these proteins provides high potential for biocatalytic approaches. We apply protein chemical and structural biological methods.

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Prof. Dr. Mike Heilemann

Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Str. 7
60438 Frankfurt
Germany
Email: Heileman at chemie.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage1 Homepage2

We apply single-molecule and super-resolution microscopy tools to study how membrane proteins organize into functional units in their native cellular environment.

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Prof. Dr. Nadja Hellmann

Institute for Pharmacy and Biochemistry
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 30
55128 Mainz
Germany
Email: nhellmann at uni-mainz.de            
Web: Homepage                 

Focus in the work of N. Hellmann is the structure-function relationship of proteins, in particular proteins and peptides of pathogenic bacteria which destabilize host-cell membranes. The aim is to understand what exactly these substances do, how they interact with the membrane, whether host-proteins are involved and how the interactions are modulated. The experimental approaches involve quantitative assessment of molecular interactions (e.g. calorimetry, spectroscopy) flanked by development of suitable mathematical models to describe the data.

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Prof. Dr. Ute Hellmich

Department of Pharmacy and Biochemistry
Membrane Biochemistry
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 30
55128 Mainz
Germany
Email: u.hellmich at uni-mainz.de
Web: Homepage
CV

Our research is focussed on the functional mechanism of complex membrane proteins, their dynamics and regulation by lipids. We are also interested in the way drugs interact with their protein targets for their improvement and an in-depth biochemical understanding of the drug-protein complex. Our lab currently focusses on transporters, ion channels and proteases that we study with biochemical, biophysical and structural techniques.

 

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Prof. Dr. Gerhard Hummer

Max Planck Institute of Biophysics
Department of Theoretical Biophysics
Max-von-Laue-Str. 3
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: gehummer at biophys.mpg.de
Web: Homepage

In our research we develop, implement, and use a broad range of computational and theoretical methods that allow us to explore the structure, stability, dynamics, and molecular functions of biomolecules and their complexes.  We use high-performance computers and work in close collaboration with experimental groups that employ a wide variety of tools, from x-ray crystallography and electron microscopy to single-molecule fluorescence and force spectroscopy.  Our computational and theoretical studies aid in the interpretation of increasingly complex measurements, and guide the design of future experiments.

 

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Prof. Dr. Franziska Matthäus

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS)
Ruth-Moufang-Str. 1  
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: matthaeus at fias.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

The group of F. Matthäus focuses on the mathematical modeling and simulation of spatiotemporal processes, in particular cell motility. We are developing mathematical models describing the behavior of individual cells and large cell populations incorporating internal signaling processes, interactions between cells and their chemical and mechanical environment, and cell-cell communication. Using exhaustive data analysis we obtain quantitative information from experimental studies. We then formulate agent-based or PDE models for cell motility. Our goal is a better understanding of how microscale processes and cell-cell interaction affect the population behavior, e.g. in the formation of metastases, parasite-host interaction, or the development of structure in embryonic development. 

 

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Dr. Ivana von Metzler 

Medical Hospital II
Hematology, Oncology, Rheumatology, Infectiology
University Hospital Frankfurt
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Theodor-Stern-Kai 7
60590 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: ivana_zavrski at yahoo.com
Web: Homepage

 

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Prof. Dr. Heinz D. Osiewacz

Molecular Biosciences
Molecular Developmental Biology
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9, N 200-206
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: Osiewacz at bio.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

How do we age, and how can we stay healthy in old age? Until the 1990s scientists assumed that the aging process of biological systems was controlled by only a few basic molecular mechanisms. We now know that aging can, in fact, be ascribed to a complex network of reaction pathways within cells. They trigger time-dependent, irreversible changes of physiological functions. In order to determine which factors are involved and what their impact is, Professor Heinz D. Osiewacz conducts research on two simply organised model organisms, the fungi Saccharomyces cerevisiae (yeast) and Podospora anserina. Their short life span of only a few weeks allows a relatively rapid assessment of the effect of targeted experimental changes. Osiewacz discovered that various molecular processes in mitochondria, the "power plants" of the eukaryotic cell, contribute largely to the aging process. Highly reactive molecules containing oxygen (reactive oxygen species, ROS) are produced when high-energy adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is generated. Although ROS are necessary for organisms to develop, in the long term they have a damaging effect. If mechanisms to protect the cell are no longer able to repair or compensate for the cumulative damage, the process of programmed cell death (apoptosis) results in the death of the individual. Using targeted mutations of fungi, genes that influence these processes, and hence contribute to an increase in life span, could be characterised. In part, these manipulations lead to a significant increase in "healthy years of life" without physiological impairment.

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Prof. Dr. Friederike Schmid

Deparment for Physics
Condensed Matter Theory
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Staudinger Weg 7
55099 Mainz
Germany
Email: friederike.schmid at uni-mainz.de
Web: Homepage

The research of the Condensed Matter Theory group at JGU Mainz is devoted to the statistical thermodynamics of solids and liquids, with special focus on disordered systems and glasses, soft condensed matter and complex fluids, and biologically motivated problems. Since our research heavily relies on extensive computer simulations, much effort is also spent on the development of new efficient simulation techniques. We perform our simulations on local clusters (conventional machines and GPUs) and on parallel supercomputers, e.g., at the John-von Neumann Institute for Computing in Jülich.

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Prof. Dr. Dirk Schneider

Institute for Pharmacy and Biochemistry
Membrane Proteins
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 30
55128 Mainz
Germany
Email: Dirk.Schneider at uni-mainz.de
Web: Homepage

Folding and interaction of membrane proteins
Our primary goal is to gain deeper insights into the functional role of individual factors involved in folding and stability of membrane proteins. We are interested in analyzing contributions of helix-helix interactions and of cofactor binding to folding and stabilization of a membrane protein. Furthermore, we currently investigate structure-function relationships and aim to define the physiological impact of membrane protein oligomerization.

Protein sorting, transport, and translocation in cyanobacteria
In a complementary project we investigate membrane biogenesis in cyanobacteria. In contrast to most other bacteria, cyanobacteria contain two types of internal membrane systems, thylakoid and cytoplasmic membranes. Thus far it is essentially completely unclear how the internal thylakoid membrane system is built up in cyanobacteria and how newly synthesized proteins are specifically directed to one or to the other membrane. The structure and functions of proteins involved in membrane biogenesis in cyanobacteria are analyzed in vitro as well as in vivo. Current projects involve analyzes of cyanobacterial chaperones as well as of the Vipp1 protein (vesicle inducing protein in plastids 1), which has been proposed to be involved in thylakoid membrane biogenesis.

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Prof. Dr. Harald Schwalbe

Institute for Organical Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Center for Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance (BMRZ)
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Strasse 7, N160-3.13
60438 Frankfurt am Main 
email: schwalbe at nmr.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

Our group is interested in the determination of structure and dynamics of a variety of molecules of chemical and biological interest, organic synthesis of biologically relevant compounds and nmr method development.

This includes natural and nonnatural biomacromolecules: Proteins in their folded and unfolded state, oligonucleotides like RNA and DNA and their complexes, and nonnatural biopolymers. While many of our projects involve the use and development of new methods in high resolution NMR-spectroscopy of liquids as a major technique, our group is engaged in the chemical and biochemical synthesis of proteins, RNA and DNA as well as photolabile cage compounds. Many of the research projects are collaborative in nature, and we have a wide range of interactions with other academic research groups.

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Prof. Dr. Hubert Serve

Medical Hospital II
Hematology, Oncology, Rheumatology, Infectiology
University Hospital Frankfurt
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Theodor-Stern-Kai 7
60590 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: Hubert.Serve at kgu.de
Web: Homepage

 

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Prof. Dr. Ernst H.K. Stelzer

Institute of Cell Biology & Neuroscience
Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS, CEF-MC)
Physical Biology
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Straße 15
60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Email: ernst.stelzer at physikalischebiologie.de, stelzer at bio.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

A major goal of the Physical Biology Group (AK Stelzer) is to pursue experiments in the life sciences under close-to-natural conditions. Hence, its members favor primary cell lines and try to avoid experiments with cultured cell lines, they favor three-dimensional cell cultures over two-dimensional cell monolayers that are cultivated on hard and flat surfaces and they try to maintain the three-dimensional context of plants, cell clusters, tissues sections and small animal embryos. In consequence, many specimens are relatively large, optically dense and require advanced methods in terms of preparation, maintenance, visualization, data handling and data analysis.

 

 


 


Prof. Dr. Robert Tampè

Institute for Biochemistry
Cellular Biochemistry
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Email: tampe at em.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

Biological membranes are fascinating dynamic barriers balancing the biological needs for compartmentalization and communication. The significance of transport of ions, molecules, and information across cell membranes is highlighted by the diversity of membrane protein.  A detailed understanding of the functionality of transmembrane processes is a focal point in health and diseases.
Our central goal is to understand cellular transport processes mediated by membrane proteins in particular ABC transport systems that are key players within the adaptive immune response against virally or malignantly transformed cells. This includes sophisticated strategies by which viruses escape the immune system.
In addition, we focus on molecular machines, which reorganize macromolecular RNA-protein complexes in protein translation and HIV assembly.
Nanotechnology covers completely new approaches based on molecular assembly to develop new devices in nanoscale dimensions. In (opto) chemical biology, we use light to reprogram dynamic cellular networks.
We tightly integrate advanced methods in biochemistry, cell biology, immunology, and structural biology in order to understand the molecular mechanisms of cellular machineries involved in human diseases.

   

 


Dr. Ralph Wieneke

Institute for Biochemistry
Cellulare Biochemistry
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Email: wieneke at em.uni-frankfurt.de
Web: Homepage

Cellular processes are mediated by a myriad of protein-protein as well as protein-lipid interactions. These complex molecular interactions are tightly coordinated and regulated and numerous of them take place at cell membranes. The group is interested in manipulating and controlling the cellular interplay at as well as within cellular membranes.

As a chemical biology group, we develop chemical strategies to modulate and regulate cellular functions. Central for our research is the design and development of synthetic, molecular tools as well as experimental techniques to probe, manipulate and image biological processes. To this aim, we utilize modern organic synthesis to precisely prepare and vary molecular structures. In combination with biochemical and molecular biology techniques as well as modern biophysical methods, this will provide insight into fundamental biological processes. A special focus of our research is to control and guide molecular interactions at membranes. Particularly, we interested in manipulating transmembrane proteins and protein lipid interactions.

   


 

Project Management



Dr. Bernd Märtens

Research Service Center
Coordination and Science Management
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9, N200, 304
60438 Frankfurt am Main Germany
Email: b.maertens at em.uni-frankfurt.de

Web: Homepage

The Research Service Center of the Goethe University supports scientists with research project management, proposal writing, event management, and information about funding opportunities.

 

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