Yearbook 2013

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For more than 150 years, the Western world has seen steady increases in average life expectancy. Controversy remains over why an increasing number of people is getting older and older. Germany divided and unified offers a unique opportunity to analyze the impact of changing living conditions on the development of mortality. After forty years of different political, social, and economic conditions as well as diverging life expectancy, the Fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the harmonization of living standards and the convergence of mortality levels between the two states formerly divided. more
In eukaryotic cells DNA and transcription of RNAs are separated from protein biosynthesis occurring in the cytoplasm. Nucleus and cytoplasm are only connected via the nuclear pores. Transport between the compartments is aided by dedicated shuttling proteins, the karyopherins. Most karyopherins carry cargo only in one direction, either into (importins) or out of the nucleus (exportins), and then return empty handed. Importin 13 is an unusual karyopherin that can both import and export cargo. Our work revealed how Imp13 recognizes its cargoes and functions as a bidirectional transport factor. more
MicroRNAs are genome-encoded, around 22 nucleotide-long RNAs that silence gene expression post-transcriptionally by binding 3′ untranslated regions of messenger RNAs. Although recent years amassed a wealth of information about their biogenesis and biological functions, the mechanisms allowing miRNAs to silence gene expression is not fully understood. Our long-term goal is to understand in molecular terms how miRNAs repress hundreds of mRNA targets in animal cells. more
There is rising awareness in the research world to not only archive and provide publications as the main outcome of a research process, but to also enable access to the related research data. With its open source web application imeji, the Max Planck Digital Library offers a software and a service for the sustainable publication of research data. In one sentence, imeji creates citable research items by describing, enriching, sharing, exposing and linking data. more
How can people live together, with ever more diverse characteristics, in the world’s rapidly expanding cities? Research at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity asks: What are the similarities and differences in social and spatial patterns that arise when new diversity meets old diversity? Three contexts of super-diversity are studied spanning anthropology and human geography to understand the changing nature of diversity and its socio-spatial patterns: New York, Singapore, and Johannesburg. more
The dynamics of networks determines our lives. From biochemical reactions in cells and neural circuits in the brain to networks of social contacts and the power grid − all these are networks of units that generate complex emergent functions through multiple nonlinear feedback. Yet we do not understand them. Researchers are now breaking new ground on the way to a future “science on the dynamics of complex networks”, a unique cross-disciplinary enterprise that cannot be captured by individual traditional subjects such as physics or biology, engineering or social sciences alone. more
Actin-driven cell motility is a key process that governs many essential biological phenomena. Recently, it was demonstrated that an intrinsic clock governs actin dynamics and determines the timing of cellular responses to external chemical stimuli. more
Dynamic processes in the cell are triggered and controlled by networks of interacting biomolecules, often comprising tens or hundreds of components. Although a vast amount of players (proteins, genes, metabolites) has been identified, their mutual interactions remain often hidden. Computational methods for reconstructing the topologies of cellular networks from experimental data are therefore a key research area in Systems Biology. The ARB group at the MPI in Magdeburg developed novel algorithms for biological network reconstruction and applied them successfully to realistic problems. more
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