Yearbook 2006

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How does the complexity and variability of life develop from simple embryonic structures? Periodic body structures as well as characteristic colour patterns on the body surface clearly stress the existence of biological patterning processes. Although an astonishingly simple mathematical model could explain pattern formation, experimental proof was still missing. A combined experimental and computer modelling approach now provided evidence for the biological correctness of the hypothesised mechanism. more
All protein coding genes are transcribed by RNA polymerase II, the central enzyme in gene expression. A Mediator complex forms the bridge between transcriptional regulators and the RNA polymerase II machinery. Scientists at the MPI for Immunobiology recently gained first insights of the physiological function of the Mediator complex by using knock-out mice. They could show that Mediator is an essential coactivator for erythroid master regulator GATA-1. Therefore, mice lacking Mediator subunit Med1/TRAP220 are anemic and have a defect in the red blood cell development. more
After decades of being either underestimated as a simple messenger for the expression of genes – from DNA to protein - or, vice versa, revered as the molecule from which all life potentially originated, RNA is now enjoying a well-deserved golden age as modern techniques allow researchers to uncover the myriad subtle roles that this molecule plays in the cells, tissues, and organisms. The RNA Biology Group at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology is exploring the functions of RNA molecules in bacteria that cause harm to humans and animals. more
Damages to the DNA sequence cause only approximately half of all cancers, according to recent research. Equally important – and significantly less understood – are the epigenetic roots of cancer, which involve persistent de-regulation of the human genome. At the Max Planck Institute for Informatics the bioinformatic methods are developed for design and optimization of epigenetic cancer therapies. more
How can we make search-engines really "understand" our queries – instead of just finding key-words on Web pages? This article sketches new technologies, which were developed at the Max-Planck-Institute for Computer Science. more
Nanoparticles are indispensible for the realization of high-quality permanent magnets and ultra-high density magnetic recording and are therefore the prerequisites for the production of hybride motors and the development of high-performance computers. more
Even very small amounts of liquids can be described by hydrodynamic equations. However, this description breaks down if the amount of liquid becomes so small that long-ranged intermolecular interactions, thermal fluctuations, or the size of the molecules become relevant. This regime is called nanofluidics, an area of research with a broad range of potential applications, and one for which statistical physics plays a key role. more
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