Welcome to the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
The Institute was founded in 2009 as part of the Cluster of Excellence Frankfurt Molecular Complexes (CEF). We aim at understanding macromolecular complexes, in particular the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular functions. The Institute is composed of nineteen scientific groups from various disciplines including biology, physics, chemistry, and medicine. We are dedicated to perform basic research with biomedical relevance, to train young scientists, and to develop frontier technologies in life sciences.
12 July 2016
New LOEWE collaborative project MegaSyn
The new LOEWE collaborative research project MegaSyn has been approved for funding from the State of Hessen. MegaSyn scientists will receive 4.6 million Euro, starting in January 2017. MegaSyn brings together scientific expertise from five research institutions. Goethe University Frankfurt leads the team which includes as partners the MPI of Biophysics in Frankfurt, Philipps University Marburg, the MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg and the Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen in Gießen. Read more...
27 June 2016
Signal for targeting β-barrel proteins to mitochondria identified
A new study, which was published on 27 June 2016 by the journal Nature Communications, reveals that β-barrel proteins are targeted to mitochondria by a dedicated β-hairpin element and this motif is recognized at the organelle surface by the outer membrane translocase.
Mitochondrial β-barrel proteins are synthesized on cytosolic ribosomes and must be specifically targeted to the organelle before their integration into the mitochondrial outer membrane. The signal that assures such precise targeting and its recognition by the organelle remained obscure. A team of scientists from the Goethe University Frankfurt and Tuebingen University has solved the puzzle: a specialized β-hairpin motif is this long searched for signal. Read more...
21 June 2016
How yeast cells regulate their fat balance -
Cylinder-shaped structures measure saturated and unsaturated fatty acids
Not only humans but also each of their body cells must watch their fat balance. Fats perform highly specialised functions, especially in the cell membrane. A research group at the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) of Goethe University in Frankfurt, together with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, has now discovered how yeast cells measure the availability of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in foodstuffs and adapt their production of membrane lipids to it. This opens up new possibilities to understand the production and distribution of fatty acids and cholesterol in our body cells and make them controllable in future, report the researchers in the latest issue of the "Molecular Cell" journal. Read more...
2 June 2016
5 Years Anniversary Symposium
21 April 2016
Quality control in oocytes by p63 is based on a spring-loaded activation mechanism
The p53 protein family with its three members p53, p63 and p73 plays very important roles in the surveillance of genetic and cellular stability. Probably the most ancient function of this family is the maintenance of genetic quality in germ cells since even short lived eukaryotic animals express a p63-like protein in their germ cells. In mammals, up to ten different isoforms of p63 exist. The longest isoform, TAp63α, is highly expressed in primary oocytes that are arrested in prophase of meiosis I. Read more...
29 Feb 2016
New EU project addresses diabetes with pancreas organoids
The goal of the new EU project LSFM4Life is the production of long-term renewing pancreas organoids for the cellular therapy of type 1 diabetes. The cause of this type of diabetes is a lack of insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreatic islets. The rate of people affected by type 1 diabetes is rising every year and is increasing particularly amongst young children. Read more...
31 Jan 2016
4th BMLS Ski Retreat
From the 28th to the 31st of January, about 50 members of the BMLS and friends joined the 4th BMLS Ski-entific Retreat in Riezlern, Austria. The retreat was a mix of 20-minute talks by BMLS PIs introducing into projects and 45-minute talks by the external speakers, plenty of skiing and après ski, as well as stimulating scientific discussions and nice entertainment. A big thank you for fantastic talks goes to our external speakers Karl-Peter Hopfner (LMU Munich), Friedrich Förster (MPI of Biochemistry Martinsried) and Andreas Tebbe (Evotec Munich)! Read more...
28 Jan 2016
Uncovering the secrets of root growth
Plants produce new organs throughout their lifespan. It is largely unknown whether this robust post-embryonic organ formation results from stereotypic dynamic processes, in which the arrangement of cells follows rigid rules. A team of scientists from the Universities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg combined modeling with empirical observations of whole-organ development to identify the principles governing lateral root formation using the model plant Arabidopsis.
21 Jan 2016
Roles of autophagy during tumorigenesis
Autophagy can act either as a tumor suppressor or as a survival mechanism for established tumors. To understand how autophagy plays this dual role in cancer, in vivo models are required. By using a highly heterogeneous C. elegans germline tumor, the research group of Christian Pohl in collaboration with the research group of Ivan Dikic could now show that autophagy-related proteins are expressed in a specific subset of tumor cells, the neurons. Moreover, they could demonstrate that inhibition of autophagy impairs neuronal differentiation and results in a shorter life span of animals with tumors. In contrast, induction of autophagy extends life span by impairing tumor proliferation, which also depends on modular changes in transcription networks and mitochondrial metabolism. The findings from this work, recently published in the journal 'Autophagy', suggest that metabolic restructuring, cell-type specific regulation of autophagy and neuronal differentiation play key roles in regulating the growth of heterogeneous tumors.
17th Dec 2015
Protein crystallography without crystals?
December 2015. Structure determination by protein crystallography is limited by the ability of proteins to crystallize. Since many proteins cannot be crystallized, high resolution X-ray structure information is often missing. Masato Akutus from the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences has won funding from the Volkswagen Stiftung to develop a novel and rapid approach for structure determination by making use of a molecular framework for protein crystallization. If successful this approach would eliminate the need to crystallize proteins in the conventional way but still provide high-resolution structural information. The molecular framework will act like a molecular sieve, which will trap proteins. It should then be possible to determine the structure of the protein in complex with the sieve. Such a new approach would open a universal, easy, fast and low sample consuming approach that would eliminate the biggest hurdle of protein crystallography.
9th Dec 2015
2nd BMLS student symposium
On 9th of December 2015, BMLS students gathered at the 2nd BMLS Student Symposium. This was the second year in a row BMLS students organized a symposium only for students (PhD students, Master and Bachelor students) and post-docs, giving the opportunity to practice conference-like situations, such as giving a scientific talk or having a poster presentation, but also engaging in networking and scientific discussions. In the first part of the symposium six talks were given by PhD students from several groups. As an addition this year, the following talk was held by an external speaker. Dr. Lothar Meier from the Infraserv Hoechst AG was invited to introduce the industry park Hoechst by illustrating its history and future developments, and how academics can contribute to this concept.
30th Nov 2015
BMLS Fundraise for Refugees
In September, a BMLS fundraising was initiated to support the overwhelming number of refugees. During a cake sell at the BMLS institute 150 Euro were collected which was donated to the UNO Refugee Agency. This money is used to help people in the affected countries such as Syria, Iraq, etc.. As an example, with those 150 Euro aid supplies such as water canisters, sleeping mats, solar-powered lamps and soap can be funded.
20th Nov 2015
DFG funds autophagy research network - 11 million € for establishing a new Collaborative Research Centre
Scientists from Frankfurt and Mainz have successfully applied for funding to establish a Collaborative Research Centre (CRC)/Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) on the molecular mechanisms of selective autophagy. Autophagy literally means "self-eating" and describes a process by which the cell recycles harmful ballast like aggregated proteins, damaged organelles or even bacterial invaders. The centre will be funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with 11 million € for the next four years. The initiative is led by the former BMLS director Ivan Dikic, and is the first large-scale collaborative network in Germany in this highly competitive field.
Call for Talks and Posters
Student Symposium - Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015
BMLS-affiliated students (PhD, Dipl., MSc., BSc.) and postdocs are cordially invited to the 2nd BMLS Student Symposium. This year we are pleased to announce that external speakers will be a great asset for this event. Students and postdocs are encouraged to submit titles for a talk or a poster. A prize will be awarded to the Best Talk and the Best Poster. Registration starts now!
19th Oct 2015 Membership of Academia Europea
The European Academy (Academia Europaea) announces the list of 248 scientists who were elected to the academy in 2015. Amongst them is Ivan Dikic, director of the Institute of Biochemistry 2 at the Medical School Goethe University and founding director of the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Sciences (BMLS).
3rd Oct 2015 SGRF Excellence in Science Award for Ivan Dikic
Ivan Dikic receives this years' SciGenom Research Foundation (SGRF) Excellence in Science Award for his contribution to molecular signalling and biomedicine. The award was presented at the 2015 NGBT Conference in Hyderabad, India, where Ivan Dikic was giving a keynote lecture on ubiquitin and autophagy networks in health and disease. Read more...
Oct 2015 Ivan Dikic appointed as a Senior Editor of eLife
Ivan Dikic has been appointed as a senior editor of the scientific journal eLife in the area of molecular signalling and quality control pathways. Since 2013, he has been serving on the board of editors of this unique journal, which is driven by a non-profit, researcher-led initiative and is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society. Ivan Dikic also serves on the editorial boards of Cell, Molecular Cell, Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, EMBO Journal, EMBO Reports, Science Signaling, Autophagy, J Cell Biol, BMC Biology, Biochemical Journal, Cell Death and Diff. He is elected as a chairman of the EMBO Publication Committee from 2015-2018.
1st Oct 2015
BMLS to purchase high resolution mass spectrometer
The BMLS Institute is going to add a modern mass spectrometer to its technology platform. The respective application has been just approved by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The application led by Prof. Helge Bode and supported by Dr. Martin Vabulas and other seven principal investigators from the BMLS Institute and the CEF Macromolecular Complexes convinced the granting agency of the urgent need for a high resolution mass spectrometer to support their proteomic and system biology research projects. The new technology will allow the scientists to broaden and deepen the proteomic analysis, especially in regard to posttranscriptional protein modifications, such as protein phosphorylation or ubiquitylation.
25th Sep 2015
Model system for the study of heartbeat irregularities
Irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia) is often associated with mutations in ion channels or other proteins. To enable drug development for distinct arrhythmias, model systems are required that allow the investigation of patient-specific mutations.
A team of scientists led by Alexander Gottschalk at the Goethe Univeristy Frankfurt established a new model system that may allow screening of drug candidates affecting specific mutations in the voltage-gated Ca2+-channel, and permit a better understanding of the effects of distinct mutations on a macroscopic level. Their findings were published on 24 September 2015 in the journal Scientific Reports.
8th Sep 2015 Novel optogenetic Tool for light-dependent generation of the cellular signaling molecule cGMP
Cyclic GMP (cGMP) is an important cellular messenger acting in processes such as visual perception, regulation of blood pressure, induced cell death, but also in regulation of penile erection. For example, the drug Viagra causes accumulation of cGMP in cells. The researche group of Prof. Alexander Gottschalk, together with colleagues from the University of Würzburg, was able to establish a novel light-sensitive protein from the aquatic fungus Blastocladiella emersonii as a so-called ‚optogenetic‘ tool, which can directly form the messenger cGMP upon illumination of cells expressing it.
7th Sep 2015 BMLS Fundraising Campaign for Refugees
Over 650.000 refugees uprooted by crisis especially in Serbia, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea und Bosnian-Herzegovina are expected in 2015 to seek asylum in Germany. It is the cruel truth that more than 2000 refugees were drown during their attempt to flee over the Mediterranean Sea to find shelter and help. The ones which made their exhausting and often very dangerous way to Germany are stranded at initial registration facilities across Germany. Those institutions are currently overstrained by the overwhelming number of refugees. Consequently, many of them – including babies, children, old, sick or injured people – do not have a place to sleep or to recover from their terrible experiences which lie behind them. More and more cities are starting to build e.g. tent camps for the refugees. But there is a huge lack of simple, material things.
16th Jul 2015 Science is fun - School children visit the lab
Kathi Zarnack and Christian Pohl, both Junior Group Leaders at BMLS, met with 3rd-year children of two Primary Schools in Frankfurt to tell about their research. They answered questions about cells and the DNA inside and invited the children to observe different cells and small organisms under the microscope.
17th Jun 2015 Martin Grininger appointed BMLS Vice Director
Martin Grininger, Lichtenberg Professor of the Volkswagen Foundation and BMLS Group Leader since 2012 has been appointed BMLS Vice Director retroactively as of 1st June 2015 by BMLS Director Enrico Schleiff. Martin Grininger was born 1976 in Linz in Austria. At school he was mainly interested in one thing: sports, especially skiing. Towards the end of his time at school he discovered that he liked chemistry too, so in 1995 he began to study chemistry at the University of Linz. He moved to Graz in 1998 to focus more on organic and biological chemistry and completed his degree with a diploma thesis at the Max- Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mühlheim/Ruhr. Martin started his PhD project at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried in 2002. After finishing his PhD in 2006 he stayed on at the MPI as project group leader. From 2010 to 2011 he was guest professor at the University of Vienna and in 2012 he became Lichtenberg-Professor of the Volkswagen Foundation at the Goethe University Frankfurt. Skiing remains his hobby. He tries to compensate for the lack of snow in Frankfurt with other sports and activities. The underlying goal of his research is to provide understanding of the functional mechanisms of proteins to finally reprogram their reaction modes. BMLS congratulates Martin Grininger and is looking forward to a successful collaboration.
3rd Jun 2015 When quality control fails
Defects in the quality control systems of cells are often fatal. This is seen in particular in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. As published in today's online version of Nature, a research team led by Ivan Dikic discovered a new autophagy receptor which plays a central role in cellular quality control. Mutations in this receptor impair its function and cause a hereditary neuropathy named HSAN II. This milestone study not only gives insight into the pathophysiology of a disastrous disease, but also emphasizes the importance of the autophagy network for the wellbeing of cells. Link to German press release, English press release, original article.
20th May 2015 EMBO announces new members for 2015
EMBO has elected neurobiologist Amparo Acker-Palmer as one of its new members. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of guidance cues involved in the formation of nervous and vascular systems. This is the second excellent piece of news this month for Amparo Acker-Palmer who recently was also selected by the European Research Council for one of its ERC Advanced Grants.
15th May 2015 Novel gene causing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ) is a devastating disease characterized by loss of motor neurons and neurodegeneration, usually leading to death within 3-4 years. Despite being classified as rare disease, public awareness is very high, fueled by celebrity patients like Stephen Hawking and culminating in last years’ Ice Bucket Challenge, the first charity campaign with global impact. Still, there is no treatment for ALS, despite intensive research in the field. Read more
12th May 2015 How do neurons and blood vessels “talk” to each other?
Neurons and blood vessels often traverse the body side by side, a fact observed as early as the 16th century by the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius. Only over the last ten years, however, researchers have discovered that the growth of neuronal and vascular networks is controlled by the same molecules. Amparo Acker-Palmer, a pioneer in this area, performs groundbreaking research on the communication between neurons and blood vessel cells in the brain. She hopes to use her findings to gain important insights into brain diseases such as dementia and mental illness. The European Research Council will fund her project with an Advanced Investigator Grant of 2.5 million euros over the next five years. ... Read more
29th Apr 2015 BMLS Director Enrico Schleiff re-elected GU Vice President
Goethe University Frankfurt elects three new Vice Presidents, adding Professor Brigitte Haar, Professor Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz and Professor Enrico Schleiff to the executive board. They were elected by a majority of the extended Senate on the first ballot, confirming the nominations of the University's new President, Professor Birgitta Wolff... Read more
21st Apr 2015 Zooming into wound healing
Scientists from the Goethe University Frankfurt, EMBL and the University of Zurich explain skin fusion at a molecular level and pinpoint the specific molecules that do the job in their latest publication in the journal Nature Cell Biology.... Read more
24th Mar 2015 Next generation optogenetics: tool development and application
Optogenetics has revolutionized neuroscience and is starting to revolutionize cell biology research too. New fields of investigation have emerged because of the exhiting new possibilities offered by this still relatively new method. The accurate manipulation of activity at the cellular and molecular level made possible through optogenetic methods allows for example the unraveling of signaling pathways inside living cells. New prospects for medical therapy are also on the horizon, such as restoration of vision or hearing. ... Read more
6th Jan 2015 Dialkylresorcinols as bacterial signaling molecules
Bacteria can communicate with each other via small diffusible molecules to mediate group coordinated interactions and thus develop potentially pathogenic effects. The research teams led by Helge B. Bode, Merck Endowed Professor of Molecular Biotechnology at Goethe University Frankfurt and Ralf Heermann, lecturer at the Department of Microbiology at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich have now deciphered a second previously unknown and widespread chemical type of bacterial communication... Read more
6th Jan 2015 PLEKHM1: A Multifunctional Adaptor for the Endolysosomal System
As reported in this month's issue of Molecular Cell and Cell Host & Microbe, an international team of researchers led by Ivan Dikic has shed light on the molecular function of the protein PLEKHM1, that has previously been shown to regulate bone density in humans and rats. The team has identified two novel functions for the protein that are importan... Read more
2nd Jan 2015 Light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy is the Nature Method of the Year 2014
Light-sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM, SPIM, DSLM) enables relatively gentle imaging of biological samples with high resolution in three dimensions and over long periods of time. Especially when combined with high-speed cameras, it is fast enough to capture cellular or subcellular dynamics. For its potential for fast, relatively gentle, volumetric imaging of biological samples, light-sheet fluorescence microscopy was chosen as Nature Method of the Year 2014. Read more
15th Dez 2014 New approach to modifying functional properties of rhodopsin optogenetic tools – via the retinal chromophore, not the protein
Since their discovery in 2003, rhodopsin optogenetic tools are widely used in neurobiology. Many variants of these proteins were introduced, all based on mutagenesis or engineering of the protein backbones. In a joint effort, the group of Jana Liewald and Alexander Gottschalk, together with Hegemann (Berlin), Fiala (Göttingen) and Trauner (Munich) have developed a novel approach to alter the functional properties of rhodopsin optogenetic tools, namely by modifications of the retinal chromophore. Synthetic retinal analogs were introduced into Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) or other rhodopsin tools in C. elegans, Drosophila and human cells, to change the light sensitivity, photo cycle kinetics and color spectrum of the optogenetic actuators. The work is going to be published in Nature Communications on Monday, 15th December, 2014. Read more
12th Nov 2014 1st BMLS student symposium
On 12th Nov 2014, BMLS students met in the 1st BMLS Student Symposium. It was the first time when BMLS students organized a symposium only for students (PhD students, Post-Docs, Master and Bachelor students), giving the opportunity to practice conference-like situations, networking and having scientific discussions. In the first part of the symposium seven talks were given by PhD students from several groups. The second part was a poster presentation where eleven authors presented their poster in a two minute short presentation followed by a poster session. At the end of the event a prize (kindly donated by BMLS group leaders) for the best talk with the title "Of Oranges and Cherries, Emeralds and Rubies" was awarded to Frederic Strobl from the group of Ernst Stelzer. The prize for the best poster with the title "The Role of Reelin in the Blood Brain Barrier" was awarded to Victor-Valentin Hodirnau from the group of Achilleas Frangakis. About 50 participants contributed to this successful event. BMLS students are looking forward to organize similar events in the future.
5th Nov 2014 Visit of Birgitta Wolff
The future President of Goethe University Frankfurt, Professor Birgitta Wolff, visited the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS) on 5th Nov 2014 on invitation from BMLS director Enrico Schleiff. The scientists were delighted to welcome Birgitta Wolff and to introduce her to their research, building and laboratories. The international and highly interdisciplinary institute on Riedberg Campus in Frankfurt currently hosts thirteen research groups with a total of 170 staff from over twenty countries. During her half day visit Birgitta Wolff met with professors, junior group leaders, postdocs, PhD students and technical-administrative staff. All involved very much enjoyed the visit and the constructive discussions. The enthusiasm of the scientists for their research and the high-tech state of the art laboratories specifically made an impression. BMLS members were only too happy to answer Birgitta Wolff’s questions ranging from science over job opportunities to technical details. The future president showed a particular interest in the younger scientists. BMLS very much thanks her for her interest and wishes her great success in the new position.
Foto: Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/ Uwe Dettmar
29th Sep 2014 Breakthrough in liver cancer - New mutation causing early onset liver cancer detected
A multidisciplinary, international team led by C. Kubisch (Ulm University), K. Ramadan (Oxford University), J. Terzic (Split University), D. Amor (University of Melbourne) and I. Dikic (Goethe University in Frankfurt) reports in today's online issue of Nature Genetics the discovery of a hitherto unknown mutation causing early onset liver cancer.
25th Aug 2014 Ivan Dikic to become a Vallee Visiting Professor at Harvard Medical School
Alexa Mason, CEO Vallee foundation and Ivan Dikic at the Foundation Symposium, Boston 2014
The Vallee Foundation announced the appointment of six new Vallee Visiting Professors (VVPs), who will receive the resources to spend one month at a premier biomedical research institute of their choice. Besides Ivan Dikic, the award goes to Bonnie Bassler, Chris Dobson, Tyler Jacks, Thomas Shenk and Andreas Strasser this year. Since 1997, 47 VVPs have been appointed, and the program has been a great success in fostering intellectual exchange, building scientific partnerships and kicking off exciting new projects. Ivan Dikic will join Harvard Medical School in 2015 for his VVP sabbatical.
More info here
For ASBMB PDF click here
1st June 2014 BMLS opens its doors to the general public as part of the open day on Riedberg Campus
The Week of Science on Riedberg Campus from 1-6 June 2014 forms part of the Goethe University's program to celebrate its 100th anniversary. BMLS opened its doors to the general public as part of the "Open Sunday" on 1 June 2014. The day started with a wonderful sunny morning and the opening of the University's new science garden. This was followed by a varied program of activities, including seminars, exhibitions, tours, live music and activities for all ages at the different departments and institutes located on the Riedberg.
30th May 2014 100 Years Goethe University − Uni Cup Rowing Regatta
In the context of "100 Years Goethe University" and the "5th Frankfurter Ruderfest" a challenching rowing regatta has been organized by Prof. Enrico Schleiff (Goethe University), Kaan Erkinay (GU) and Oliver Palme (Frankfurter Regatta Verein).
26th May 2014 Non-invasive long-term fluorescence live imaging of Tribolium castaneum embryos.
During the last years, Tribolium castaneum has emerged as the second most important insect model organism trailing Drosophila melanogaster. However, previous fluorescence live imaging attempts addressed only particular issues and covered only short time periods. In the current issue of Development, Frederic Strobl and Ernst Stelzer provide a protocol for the non-invasive long-term fluorescence live imaging of Tribolium castaneum embryos. They document, for the first time, the complete embryonic morphogenesis process continuously in one embryo and along four orientations discovering a new transient structure on the extraembryonic membrane â€“ the serosa scar.
Link to publication
Link to YouTube video “Imaging embryogenesis in the beetle Tribolium”
25th April 2014 HFSP Program Grant for BMLS.
The International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization announced this year's winners of the competition for one of the prestigious HFSP research grants. Amongst the awardees is the Dikic group at the BMLS, who together with the Sidhu group (Canada), the Komatsu group (Japan) and the Sander group (U.S.) will receive 1,35 M USD for the next 3 years. "This award considerably pushes autophagy research in Frankfurt, especially because it funds one of our most innovative projects. Within the next 3 years, we expect to gain a lot of knowledge about molecular targeting of the autophagy network", says Ivan Dikic, IBCII director and founding director of the BMLS. Read more
11th April 2014 Amparo Acker Palmer will join the MPI for Brain Research as a Max Planck Fellow.
Amparo Acker Palmer will join the MPI as a Max Planck Fellow, effective July 1st, 2014. The Max Planck Fellow Program promotes cooperation between outstanding university professors and Max Planck Society researchers. The appointment of university professors as Max Planck Fellows is limited to a five-year period and also entails the supervision of a small working group at a Max Planck Institute.
10th April 2014 The control of signaling in immunity and inflammation.
The groups of Ivan Dikic and Masato Akutsu have moved closer in understanding how a novel form of protein modification, the linear ubiquitination, controls central pathways of immunity and inflammation. In a collaborative effort, they showed that the two enzymes responsible for assembling and disassembling linear ubiquitin chains are contained in one complex. By structural analysis, they managed to decipher the molecular details of the interaction between these two key enzymes and were able to show how the opposing activities of the complex are controlled. Their results are published in the current edition of Molecular Cell online
18th March 2014 German Society for Cell Biology honours Ernst Stelzer.
Ernst Stelzer received the "Carl Zeiss Lecture 2014" at the International Meeting of the German Society for Cell Biology in Regensburg.
The Society awards this prize for internationally outstanding achievements in the field of light and electron microscopy. Ernst Stelzer's development and patents for light sheet microscopy have led to a new fluorescence microscopy system being now available to scientists worldwide. Link to ZEISS press release
25th Feb 2014 New piece in the puzzle of neuronal communication.
Detailed knowledge of the mechanisms that underlie neuronal communication is essential to better understand brain function and pathological conditions. Neurons can modulate their signal input not only by altering the area covered by their dendritic trees, but also by adapting the strength of their synapses. Regulation of cargo transport via adaptor molecules is essential for neuronal development. However, the role of PDZ scaffolding proteins as adaptors in neuronal cargo trafficking is still poorly understood. Read more...
10th Feb 2014 BMLS scientists Deepika Singh and Christian Pohl uncover a biomechanical mechanism for embryonic patterning.
Early embryos need to generate a specific coordinate system to develop properly. In the last issue of Developmental Cell, BMLS scientists Deepika Singh and Christian Pohl now uncover a biomechanical mechanism that helps to form one axis in this coordinate system. This mechanism uses a remnant of cell division to orient cells along this axis. Link to publication
Just before Christmas three group leaders signed their contracts for starting their first independent groups at BMLS. Dr Anja Bremm (left) who received a prestigious Emmy Noether Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG), Dr Masato Akutsu (second from left) who will be heading a group endowed by the Leibniz Prize awarded to Ivan Dikic (right) by the DFG, and Dr Kathi Zarnack (third from left) who will be funded through the LOEWE program 'Ubiquitin networks'. Both Kathi Zarnack and Masato Akutsu will also be supported by a donation from the Buchmann Foundation. All three will start their groups in 2014, Anja Bremm mainly concentrating on cellular signaling, Masato Akutsu strengthening the structural biology platform, and Kathi Zarnack establishing the first bioinformatics group.
In collaboration with Katrin Rittinger at the MRC-NIMR in London, the Dikic group solved a molecular puzzle about the formation of specific Ubiquitin chains. In the current issue of Nature, they report the crystal structure of the catalytic core of HOIP, the critical enzymes involved in forming linear (Met1-linked) Ubiquitin chains. These chains are important regulators of cellular signalling, and knowing the molecular structure of the complexes involved is an important step forward to understanding how these pathways control innate immunity and inflammation.
Link to nature publication
The Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) is to award Ernst Stelzer the Honorary Fellowship of the Society for his contribution to the development of confocal microscopy. Ernst Stelzer will receive his honorary fellowship at the Microscience Microscopy Congress in July 2014 where he will also be giving the plenary talk.
The RMS will be celebrating its 175th Anniversary in 2014. Honorary Fellowships are bestowed to a limited number of scientists by the RMS for eminence in microscopy or related branches of science or for exceptional service to science. Further information on the RMS read more
Left: Prof. Frangakis explaining the Titan Krios electron microscope to Minister Boddenberg, middle: Minister Boddenberg observing movements of the worm C. elegans , right: Prof. Stelzer, Minister Boddenberg, Prof. DÃ¶tsch (from left)
As part of the 'Research Awareness Weeks', Hessian Minister of Federal Affairs, Michael Boddenberg, took a tour around the Buchmann Institute and the Center for Biomagnetic Resonance. He was impressed by the setup of equipment and technologies on Riedberg Campus.
The Jung Foundation for Science and Research announced that Ivan Dikic will receive the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine 2013 for his groundbreaking work in understanding the role of Ubiquitin in cellular signal regulation. The prize is awarded with 150,000 € and will be presented at a ceremony on 3rd May in Hamburg. Read more.
Frankfurt researcher is admitted to the German Academy of Sciences.
Ivan Dikic, Scientific Director of the CEF-funded FMLS, is elected a member of the Leopoldina
Leibniz Prize 2013 for BMLS director Ivan Dikic.
In recognition of his fundamental contribution to decrypting the Ubiquitin code, Ivan Dikic is to receive the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2013, Germany`s most prestigious scientific award. The award is funded and presented by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It is the research price with the highest endowment worldwide and comes with a grant of 2.5 M €
BMLS Group Leader wins ERC Starting Grant.
Martin Vabulas was awarded with one of the prestigious grants for early-career researchers, enabling him to carry out his ambitious MetaMeta project. The project studies the metastability of proteins during tumor metastasis and will now be endowed with 1.4 M € for the next 5 years. Link to Goethe University press release and ERC press release.
Renaming of the Institute is celebrated in a festive ceremony.
As a sign of gratitude to the Frankfurt businessmann and patron Dr. h.c. Josef Buchmann, the Institute has been named Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. Josef Buchmann has been a generous supporter of the Goethe University for more than 25 years, and has recently also sponsored the Institute substantially, enabling the recruitment of further young academics to the Riedberg campus. Link to German press release.
BMLS scientist Amparo Acker-Palmer elected as new member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
Acker-Palmer's research concentrates on the parallels of network formation during vascularization and neuronal development. She was recruited to Frankfurt by the Cluster of Excellence in 2007 and is a group leader in BMLS since 2010. Link to
German press release
2013 ASBMB William C. Rose Award goes to BMLS Director Ivan Dikic
The Award honors the pioneering work of Ivan Dikic in understanding the Ubiquitin code, and his efforts in training and education of young scientists.
Link to Press Release
More about Ivan Dikic
A new toolkit for monitoring endogenous Ubiquitin.
BMLS scientists developed specific Ubiquitin biosensors for in vivo application. This approach might mark a major technical breakthrough in detection of Ubiquitin signals in living cells. It is published in today's online issue of Molecular Cell. Link to
full article or Read more.
15th June 2012
CEF successful in new round of Excellence Initiative
The Joint Commission of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the German Council of Science and Humanities confirmed today that CEF is one of the Clusters of Excellence to receive funding in the new round of the German Excellence Initiative. This new multi-million Euro grant will begin in November 2012 and will last for five years. It confirms the high quality and international competitiveness of the CEF´s research.
Sponsorship of FMLS by Josef Buchmann sealed.
The Frankfurt businessman and patron Josef Buchmann is supporting the FMLS with a substantial donation. As a sign of gratitude and to underscore the important role of Josef Buchmann and his wife Bareket in supporting research at the Goethe University, the FMLS will henceforth be named Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences. Link to
German press release.
Volker Dötsch receives 1M € for Reinhart Kosseleck Project
he FMLS Vice Director and Professor at the Institute of Biophysical Chemistry of the Goethe University Frankfurt has been granted â‚¬ 1 M by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for a project building on his previously published results on genetic quality control in oocytes. Read more about this research area. Link to
German Press Release.
Martin Grininger joins the FMLS
Following his successful application for a Lichtenberg Professorship of the Volkswagen Foundation, Martin Grininger has moved from the MPI of Biochemistry in Munich to establish his new group at the FMLS. His research is focussed on Megasynthases. These protein complexes produce bioactive natural products in various microorganisms, which are often applied as antibiotics. Martin Grininger aims to copy the natural pathways for the synthesis of new pharmaceutical drugs.
PhD student Daniel von Wangenheim from the Stelzer Group wins the 2nd prize in the 2011 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition. His video shows a Arabidopsis thaliana lateral root growing out of the primary root. A stack of 233 images was recorded every 15 minutes over a period of 75 hours using light-sheet based fluorescence microscopy (mDSLM). Link to
for the FMLS, Biologicum and Otto-Stern-Zentrum on Riedberg campus - link to livestream, to German press release, and to the scientific symposium which took place in the morning to mark the day.
New group leader recruited
Dr Christian Pohl has moved from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York/USA to join the FMLS. His research is focussed on embryonal development in the worm C. elegans, aiming at understanding the molecular mechanisms of head morphogenesis. With the recruitment of Dr Pohl, research into developmental cell biology is substantially strengthened at the FMLS.
Simin Rahighi receives an EMBO longterm postdoctoral fellowship
EMBO will fund her work for the next two years. Her proposal is focused on understanding the role of linear ubiquitylation in regulation of apoptotic cell death.
20th October 2011
Volker Dötsch elected to EMBO membership
I The FMLS Vice Director and Professor at the Institute of Biophysical Chemistry of the Goethe University Frankfurt has been elected by EMBO as one of 46 new members from 14 countries. By awarding life-long membership, EMBO acknowledges the outstanding scientific contribution of Volker Dötsch and his commitment to research excellence.
Completion of FMLS building
After only two years of construction time, the new FMLS building has now been finished. Seven groups from a wide range of disciplines have moved in already, creating a vibrant scientific atmosphere. The building offers excellent conditions for cutting edge research in Life Sciences, bridging the gaps between Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. It houses a first-class Electron Microscopy Facility, a dedicated Crystal Facility, and the Frankfurt Centre for Advanced Light Microscopy (FCAM).
Chaperone system resolved
Newly synthesized proteins are fragile and could never reach their proper functional state and their correct destination without the protection of chaperones. As reported in the latest online issue of Science, FMLS deputy director Volker Dötsch was now involved in solving the molecular mechanisms of one such system.
26th May 2011
New defense mechanism against Salmonella elucidated
After infection with Salmonella, epithelial cells can get rid of the unwanted invader by a process called autophagy. In today's issue of the journal Science, an international group of scientists around FMLS director Ivan Dikic describes how selectivity is achieved in this process.
The world's smallest wedding rings
FMLS scientist Alexander Heckel and his PhD student Thorsten Schmidt succeed in creating two interlocking rings of DNA only 18 nanometers in size. Such a structure is called a catenan, and it sets a milestone in the field of DNA nanotechnology.
New group leader recruited
Dr. Martin Vabulas from the MPI of Biochemistry in Martinsried will join the FMLS in April 2011. Martin Vabulas is an expert in proteasome function and protein quality control mechanisms. His group aims at identifying molecular events which lead to the collapse of the protein network in diseases like Alzheimer's and during aging.
A step towards understanding chronic dermatitis
An international team of scientists led by FMLS director Ivan Dikic discovered a novel role for the protein SHARPIN in immune signalling. In today's issue of Nature, they show how SHARPIN stimulates formation of linearized ubiquitin chains, triggering activation of a central regulator of immune responses.
Japan Tsunami Appeal
The FMLS & CEF Offices are collecting donations for the Japanese Red Cross Society until the end of March. If you wish to participate in this effort, please visit the office or use the following links to find information of how to donate directly to theJapanese Red Cross or to the German Red Cross.
18th Feb 2011
Fatal quality control in oocytes
Maintaining genomic stability in the female germline is extremely important for all species. Together with others, the group of FMLS scientist Volker Dötsch has now revealed how the activity of quality control factor p63 is regulated in oocytes. Upon DNA damage, conformation of the protein changes to an active tetramer, initiating death of damaged oocytes. Their results are published today in the journal Cell.
Lígia Gomes receives a long-term FEBS fellowship and commences her work within the Dikic/Dötsch group at the FMLS.
Her project is focused on the regulation of selective autophagy. FEBS is funding her position for one year, with the option of renewal to up to 3 years.
Directing worms with light
FMLS scientist Alexander Gottschalk has shown for the first time how the movement of an animal can be reliably and precisely directed through light impulses. The new technology was published online today in Nature Methods.
Read more or watch video.
One ubiquitin, 1000s of partners
Ubiquitin signals and ubiquitin-binding domains are implicated in almost every cellular process. But how is this wide spectrum of functionality achieved? How does ubiquitin find the correct target? Ivan Dikic and colleagues reviewed technological advances in monitoring the dynamics and specificity of ubiquitin networks in the journal Cell. Read more or listen to interview with Prof Ivan Dikic.
Frankfurt researcher is admitted to the German Academy of Sciences
Ivan Dikic, member of the Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes (CEF) and the Scientific Director of the CEF-funded FMLS, is elected a member of the Leopoldina. The Leopoldina is Germany's National Academy that elects distinguished scientists from all over the world and advises the government on scientific issues and encourages an exchange of ideas with academies abroad and international scientists.
Digital Fly Embryo
CEF Investigator Ernst Stelzer and colleagues from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, the University of Heidelberg and the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York have created the Fly Digital Embryo. In work reported on 4 July 2010 in the journal Nature Methods, they were able to film the development of fruit flys as well as that the eyes and midbrain of zebra fish. Recording light-microscopy images of large, nontransparent specimens, such as developing multicellular organisms, is complicated by decreased contrast resulting from light scattering.
15th Jun 2010
CEF successful in new round of Excellence Initiative
The Joint Commission of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the German Council of Science and Humanities announced today that the Cluster of Excellence Frankfurt Macromolecular Complexes (CEF) will receive funding in the 2nd phase of the German Excellence Initiative. The Buchmann Institute was founded as part of the CEF in 2009, and the continuation of CEF will boost further excellent research at the Institute.
6th May 2010
New target for tumor therapy - Nature letter: When drugs could permanently disrupt the pathological formation of blood vessels
As from a specific size, solid tumors form a capillary network of blood vessels that grows along with them. One therapy approach is to suppress growth of blood vessels to starve the tumor. Drugs so far used in the clinic block the vessel growth factor VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor). However, there is growing evidence that tumors can avoid or become resistant to this blockade. Little is known about how this takes place since the sprouting of blood vessels (angiogenesis) is not understood in detail yet.
22nd Dec 2009
CEF successful in new round of Excellence Initiative
For research focused on cancer it is important to understand the regulation of growth factors which are responsible for the proliferation and differentiation of cells. Growth hormones signal to the cell via receptors that are positioned in the cell membrane. When an extracellular growth factor docks on its receptor, the membrane area surrounding it invaginates and gets cut off. Enclosed in a small bubble (vesicel) inside the cell the receptor is transported to other membrane enclosed compartments where it can signal to the cell to proliferate or to migrate.