Scientists of the German Cancer Research Center Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum DKFZ have discovered a new protein which plays an important role in cell division. It regulates duplication of the centrosomes which in turn distribute the duplicated genetic material evenly to the newly formed daughter cells. This important step of cell division is often disrupted in cancer cells. A better understanding of how this part of the cell cycle is regulated may also become a starting point for developing new cancer treatments. The group led by Associate Professor PD Dr. Ingrid Hoffmann has now published its results in the Journal of Cell Biology.
The centromere is a specialized region of the chromosome, on which a protein complex known as the kinetochore is assembled. During cell division, the kinetochore provides a point of attachment for molecules of the cytoskeleton, thereby mediating the segregation of chromosomes to the two opposing cell poles. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics and BIOSS in Freiburg have investigated the factors that play an essential role in the development of the kinetochore. According to their findings, both the organisation of the chromosomes and epigenetic marks determine the location where a kinetochore and, eventually, a centromere can form.
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Frankfurt have elucidated the architecture of the biggest protein complex of the cellular respiratory chain. They discovered in this molecular complex a previously unknown energy conversion mechanism, which is essential for the cell to be able to utilise the energy contained in food.
Until recently the generation of cell lines was a very costly and time-consuming process taking up to 14 weeks of time. Thanks to a worldwide unique format used by the Constance-based company cytobox this now has become a thing of the past. The newly established biotechnology company offers researchers and developers ready-to-use stable cell lines that require a record time of only 30 business days to produce. The companys cell lines are also much more affordable than customised cell lines generated using traditional methods. The extra rapid production is made possible by the companys innovative ExoIN technology that links the synthesis of target proteins and selection markers in a sophisticated way.
Organisms have two possibilities when they encounter inhospitable environmental conditions: to run away or to adapt. As plants have no legs, they therefore need to adapt rapidly to unstable environmental conditions. A plant is hugely flexible in terms of its shape and one of the things that makes this possible is its cytoskeleton, a scaffold consisting of specialized filaments. A group of researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) led by Prof. Dr. Peter Nick is investigating the molecular mechanisms that plant cells use to dynamically rearrange their cytoskeleton.
Bacterial cells are focused on growth and proliferation. These processes are initiated by cellular enzymes that break up the cell wall material murein introduce new material and degrade material that is no longer needed. And all this in large amounts about 50 per cent of murein are degraded and newly formed turnover per cell generation. Dr. Christoph Mayer and his team from the University of Constance have shown that the cells carry out effective recycling processes.
When a cell divides the genetic information in the chromosomes must be passed on error-free to the daughter cells. Researchers at the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory in Tübingen are studying this process using fission yeast as a model organism. In cooperation with researchers at the University of Tübingen they succeeded in attributing additional tasks to the Aurora enzymes which were already recognized as important cellular tools for the reliable transmission of genetic information.
For more than 25 years Prof. Dr. Andrea Hartwig has been investigating the quantities of metal compounds that have a beneficial or toxic effect on human health. As a basic researcher the new chair of the Department of Food Chemistry and Toxicology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT has managed to clarify many mechanisms of action of toxic metals including on the molecular level.
Cells possess a large number of chaperones which make sure that proteins behave correctly and do not cause damage. Scientists at the Centre for Molecular Biology in Heidelberg are investigating the mechanisms used by the complex network of chaperones to control the proper folding of cellular proteins.
Breaking through the protective darkness of the soil can be very uncomfortable for fungi because it requires them to adapt quickly to UV radiation or moisture fluctuations. But how do they know that they are on the soil surface? An important parameter is light. Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Fischer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are investigating how the mould Aspergillus nidulans perceives light and how this governs its behaviour. Over the last few years, growing evidence has shown that many molecular processes in fungi are influenced by light. Since Aspergillus moulds are used for many applications in the food industry and in biotechnology, the researchers’ results are also of great importance for these areas.
Dr. Alexander Bürkle from the University of Konstanz was awarded the GT-Toxicology Prize by the Society of Toxicology (part of the German Society of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacoloy and Toxicology) and the journal “Toxicology” for his work on DNA repair mechanisms. Bürkle’s research centres on the enzyme poly[ADP-ribose]polymerase (PARP). The reduced activity of PARP is known to cause the incomplete or delayed repair of continuously occurring DNA damage.
Physiologists have for a long time regarded the communication between cells as a purely “external” process. However, research carried out by Dr. Nikolaj Klöcker and his team at the Freiburg University Medical Centre now shows that the cells do not exclusively regulate their electrical properties directly at the cell membrane. They also found a range of molecular switches in neurons and epithelial cells that are able to control the cells’ electrical properties. These switches not only influence the synthesis, but also the intracellular transport and degradation of receptors and ion channels that enable the exchange of information on the cell surface.
Although they are present almost everywhere, on land and sea, a group of related bacteria in the superphylum Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae, or PVC, have remained in relative obscurity ever since they were first described about a decade ago. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have discovered that these poorly-studied bacteria possess proteins thought to exist only in eukaryotes – organisms whose cells have a nucleus. Their findings, featured on the cover of today’s edition of PLoS Biology, could help to unravel part of the evolutionary history of eukaryotic cells such as our own.
Mitochondria contain an intertwined membrane system that is necessary for the production of energy. Errors in the inner mitochondrial membrane architecture prevent energy from being produced. A group of researchers led by Dr. Martin van der Laan at the University of Freiburg in cooperation with partners has identified a protein complex that plays a key role in the architecture and functioning of the mitochondria.
The planar cell polarity is crucial for example in the development of ordered organ structures. One of the issues being investigated by researchers led by Prof. Dr. Matias Simons from the University of Freiburg is how the perfectly ordered patterns on the surface of Drosophila wings develop.
In wound healing and the growth and spread of tumours a particular characteristic of the bodys cells plays a crucial role their capacity to move in their tissue environment. Together with colleagues from Japan scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart and the University of Heidelberg have developed a very promising method for the study of cell movement. The new method enables the examination of the collective behaviour of small groups of cells in an environment that imitates living tissue.
A research team led by scientists from the German Cancer Research Centre worked out that cancer cells rely on the tension of specific protein fibres to be able to multiply. Proteins that maintain this tension have now become promising targets for new target-specific anticancer drugs If these proteins are switched off cancer cells die.
When an egg cell is being formed, the cellular machinery which separates chromosomes is extremely imprecise at fishing them out of the cell’s interior, scientists at EMBL Heidelberg have discovered. The findings, published online in Cell, could explain why errors in the number of chromosomes in the egg cell are the leading cause of miscarriages and severe congenital diseases like Down's syndrome, as well as causing female infertility.
Cell biologists at the University of Konstanz have discovered how specialised bacteria colonise human mucosal surfaces. Prof. Dr. Christof Haucks team is mainly interested in a mechanism known as exfoliation i.e. the shedding of epithelial cells which certain bacteria suppress in order to be able to effectively colonise mucosal surfaces.
Paul Dietl talks around the subject before coming to the point yes lung research has a very long tradition. And yes the breathing mechanism and structure of the lungs have been known for many years. We have also known for quite some time that gases diffuse and are not actively absorbed in the lungs. Are lung researchers now concentrating on the precise details? Nothing could be further from the truth said the Ulm professor for general physiology Prof. Paul Dietl The most essential aspects are still unclear.
Cells have their own language that they use to communicate with each other. They need this language to be able to form intact tissues and fulfil their specific functions in the body. If these signalling pathways are disrupted, metabolic processes will suffer and result in diseases. We know many “words” of the cellular language, i.e. signalling molecules that bind to specific surface receptors and thereby trigger chemical reactions inside the cell. But we do not know how these “words” are combined in “sentences” nor do we understand the underlying “grammar”. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a method to decode the grammar of cell signals.
Cells need to get rid of misfolded proteins as quickly as possible, something that for a long time has appeared to be the major function of the enzyme ubiquitin and other similarly structured proteins. It has since become clear that ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins also interfere considerably with the signalling networks of cells. Dr. Klaus-Peter Knobeloch and his colleagues at the Freiburg Neurocentre are investigating the molecular components of a ubiquitin-like system that has connections with the immune system. If parts of this structure are missing, then this can result in severe brain damage, amongst other things.
The idea and the first laboratory device were developed in Heidelberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL one of the worlds top-class research institutions before being turned into a product by the Heiligkreuzsteinach-based company PROdesign. PROcellcare a fully automated cell analysis and nutrient supply system that can be integrated into microscope is an impressive demonstration that innovation very much depends on the right partners working together.