Yearbook 2004

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The interaction of bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms with the mammalian immune system has been the subject of world-wide investigations since more than a century now. The studies carried out in the group of Marina A. Freudenberg at the MPI for Immune Biology are concerned mainly with the interaction of lipopolysaccharide (endotoxin, LPS) with the innate immune system. LPS is a highly toxic component present in the outer cell-wall of Gram-negative bacteria, inducing in animals and humans a large spectrum of pathophysiological activities that can lead to shock and death. On the other hand LPS is a powerful activator of the innate immune system and plays a primary role in the early recognition of bacterial infections and in the stimulation of antibacterial defense. The positive and negative consequences of LPS/host interaction during bacterial infections, i.e. the induction of an early resistance to infection, the development of pathophysiological effects, as well as their underlying mechanisms are investigated by the group in different mouse-models. The objective of these studies is an improved diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infection and are therefore important both from the scientific and clinical point of view. more
How does the immune system avoid self-destruction and the devastating effects of autoimmunity that Paul Ehrlich described as “horror autotoxicus“? How did early vertebrates survive when they began to use receptors with random antigen specificities despite their extensive self-reactivity? It appears that the quality control mechanisms taming self-reactivity in the immune system were derived from an ancient mechanism that guided sexualselection on the basis of evaluating genetic diversity. more
Helicobacter pylori comprises a multi-faceted model of host-pathogen interactions: Genetic fingerprints of world-wide collected strains reflect historical human migrations; translocation of bacterial CagA protein provokes changes in gastric cells; vaccine development uncovers principles of gastric immune protection. more
Based on a vectorspace representation of the shapes and colours (textures) of human faces, which is constructed from a database of three-dimensional (3D) scans, the 3D shape of faces can be reconstructed from single images. Moreover, faces can be animated in 3D or in given images, and facial identity can be exchanged in images, using a general and automated approach. more

Cellular life on the nanometer scale

Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart site Spatz, Joachim P.; Arnold, Marco; Blümmel, Jacques; Cavalcanti-Adam, Ada; Glass, Roman; Ulmer, Jens
The formation of molecular clusters plays an essential role in many hierarchically organised processes. Especially in biology, cellular functions are often regulated by the association of single proteins into protein clusters of defined protein number. Proteins change their molecular conformation and thus their function through interaction with other proteins in close spatial proximity. Consequently, the formation of protein clusters is a functional tool of nature to switch system properties. Beside the spatial proximity of proteins the total number of proteins per cluster is often very important. Usually, this is a countable number of proteins which form such a cluster. In such systems, cooperativeness between proteins is basically of importance. In this context, nanotechnology can contribute significantly to cell biology by means of nanostructured and bio-functionalised interfaces. Here, this technology serves as a “nanoscopic tool” for regulating molecular interactions and for measuring molecular length scales in protein clusters. more
The evolution-optimized processes of biomineralization lead to the formation of multifunctional biominerals, that can be considered to be inorganic/organic composite materials with a complex structure. The formation of these solids occurs in aqueous solution at ambient conditions and involves biopolymeric templates that control the mineralization of the inorganic components. Bio-inspired material synthesis aims to imitate such principles by technical means. In the meantime thin films as well as multilayer composites made of ceramics and polymers were prepared successfully. Moreover, morphologies, that are similar to structures found within living nature, have been created. more
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