Proteins are folded into three-dimensional structures and modify their spatial arrangement dynamically in the course of biological reactions. The structural and functional relationships between proteins, multi-protein systems and the protein fibres in the cytoskeleton (microtubules) are examined in atomic detail at the Max Planck Research Unit for Structural Molecular Biology in Hamburg. X-ray crystal structure analysis is carried out using highly intensive synchrotron radiation sources at the Deutsches Elektronensynchrotron (DESY, German Electron Synchrotron). The scientists seek to explain, among other things, the role played by the tau protein in the emergence of Alzheimer’s disease. They also examine proteins from the tuberculosis bacterium to find starting points for the discovery of active agents to treat this disease. A large part of the research of Ada Yonath, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, was carried out at this research unit. Here, she decoded the structure of ribosomes, the cell’s protein factories, and thus facilitated the search for innovative antibiotics.
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