Yearbook 2008

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Cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion plays a pivotal role in patterning of multicellular organisms. In particular E- and N-cadherin have an important function during development and their expression is usually mutually exclusive. During important morphogenetic events expression is switched from E- to N-cadherin. This cadherin switch is observed during normal development, but also during tumorigenesis and metastasis and is accompanied by changes in cell morphology and their molecular properties. Scientists at the MPI of Immunobiology have focused on the molecular differences between and the gene regulation of E- and N-cadherin. more
The human genome contains roughly 25,000 protein-coding genes. However, in a given cell-type a maximum of only 10,000 of these genes are expressed at a significant level. In order to understand this, scientists have to know the gene regulatory code, which consists of the DNA sequence-dependent binding specificities of a prominent class of DNA-binding proteins, the so called transcription factors (TFs), which are able to read the regulatory information. Max-Planck researchers have devised a fast and sensitive technology bearing the potential for genome-wide studies of the gene regulatory code. more
All essential blood forming cells can be generated from the embryonic stem cells of mice and retransplanted into recipient mice. The influence of a larger number of genes with different functions during the generation of the innate and adaptive immune system can thus genetically be studied under natural conditions. Since in embryonic stem cells a defect gene can be replaced by a copy of its intact form by homologous recombination, immunodeficiencies can be repaired by targeted gene therapy. more
Genomic sequencing of microbial communities allows to study the genomes and functional capabilities of uncultivable organisms. At the Max Planck Institute for Informatics methods are developed to assign the obtained genomic sequence fragments to the respective organisms. Application to metagenomes of microbial communities with industrially relevant capabilities, such as the degradation of plant materials to metabolites convertible to biofuels, reveals which organisms have a leading role in these processes. more
A phone chain (or phone cascade) is a way of distributing information to all members of a group. Similar problems are subject of research in computer science. It turns out that very good solutions are obtained from phone chains that use randomness. Finding the right dose of randomness is currently a hot topic. more
The goal of the project is to found a start-up that will develop and sell health care products whose design is based on a particular nanotechnology. The first three products that we are developing are a non-invasive prenatal test, a non-invasive cancer monitoring test, and a coating for synthetic vascular grafts. The project is funded by the GOBio program, a program from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany. more

Room temperature ferromagnetism of zinc oxide: a grain boundary phenomenon?

Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart site Goering, Eberhard; Baretzky, Brigitte; Straumal, Boris; Tietze, Thomas; Schütz, Gisela
Zink oxide doped with Cobalt shows ferromagnetic behavior at room temperature. Our X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism measurements clearly demonstrate that none of the sample’s elements (Co, Zn or O) is responsible for ferromagnetism. Dedicated data evaluation from literature and our own investigations indicate that ferromagnetism only appears in nanocrystalline ZnO and is likely induced by Oxygen defects located in the dense grain boundary network. These findings may open promising perspectives for new technological applications. more
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