Protein Research Department

Protein Research Department

The Protein Research Department (PRD) bundles cutting-edge research for a better understanding of cellular protein networks and forms around the DFG Collaborative Research Centers SFB 642 (spokesman: Klaus Gerwert) and SFB 480 (spokesman: Ulrich Kück). For the 19 projects, its Principle Investigators (PIs) are recruited from the faculties of Biology and Biotechnology, Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as Medicine and work within three areas: Sensory Biology (A), Platform Technologies in Protein Research (B), and Translation into Application (C). Under this umbrella, topics ranging from protein structure and mechanism, macromolecular assemblies, and functions of membrane-protein complexes up to cellular behaviour are studied from a molecular perspective using state of the art methods in structural biology, biophysics, biochemistry, and cell biology.
The PRD primarily targets at bridging the current gap between molecular and systemic approaches in protein research in order to achieve a molecular understanding of the cellular processes. Quantitative understanding of such complex and controlled biological processes at the cellular level requires a profound insight into the relationship between various genetically programmed and dynamically regulated networks. The PRD will focus on processes originating at, or involving biological membranes, exemplified by studies on sensory transduction originating at G-Protein Coupled receptors (GPCRs) and pathways involving GTP-binding proteins of the Ras superfamily. Since defects in the addressed interactions account for a variety of serious diseases, the acquired understanding at the atomic level should eventually result in the development of innovative biotechnology applications with long-term benefits for public health, e.g. tailored drugs for molecular therapy or the identification of biomarkers.

Protein Science in Bochum

Illustration of the different levels, on which biological processes are being studied within the PRD. The goal of this Research Department centers on bridging the gap between a detailled understanding of structure and function of single proteins in vitro as well as the rather qualitative understanding of protein interactions in protein networks in vivo, following this task both in „bottom-up“ and in „top-down“ approaches. This procedure allows firstly the identification of biomarkers for an early recognition of diseases, and secondly a directed intervention into disease-causing processes within molecular therapies.


Im Film: Protein Research Department stellt sich vor

Das Protein Research Department stellt sich und seine Arbeit filmisch vor.

Videoclip PRD

Molecular Lego

Researchers working in the field of synthetic biology use components that occur in nature and combine them in a new way. This is how bacteria acquire functions that they hadn’t previously possessed. This offers great potential for biotechnology. Johanna Roßmanith and her doctoral supervisor Prof Dr Franz Narberhaus from the Chair of Microbial Biology carried out a successful study where they controlled the type of proteins a bacterium would manufacture and its behaviour. This is how they have made a bacterium swim that hadn’t previously had the ability to move. The researchers made that possible by combining various modules from the bacterium’s RNA in a new way.

Press article

Novel optogenetic tool

Researchers in Bochum have utilised light-sensitive proteins from nerve cells of the eye – so-called melanopsins – to switch on specific signalling pathways in brain cells with high temporal precision. Depending on what kind of melanopsin the researchers used, signalling pathways were switched on either transiently or sustained. In mammals, the protein typically regulates the circadian rhythm.

Press article

New electrode for ion concentration analysis

Mini analysis systems for ion concentrations have posed a considerable challenge for developers to date. They had to find a compromise between size, costs and reproducible results. A solution to this problem is delineated by the research team headed by Prof Dr Wolfgang Schuhmann from the Center of Electrochemical Sciences at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in the journal “Angewandte Chemie International Edition”. The researchers designed an electrode that measures the concentration of specific positive ions in a stable manner and could be mass-produced at low costs. The electrode could be even smaller than 100 micrometres and be manufactured simply by printing a paste.

Press article