Institute of Structural Biology

The Institute of Structural Biology investigates the spatial structures of biological macromolecules, i.e. proteins, nucleic acids (RNAs and DNA) and their complexes. These structural data help us to understand molecular mechanisms of cellular processes and disease-linked pathways.

We are using and developing modern solution- and solid-state NMR- spectroscopy techniques as well as X-ray crystallography to elucidate the structural details of complex biomolecules. These data are combined with complementary information from Small Angle X-ray and/or Neutron Scattering (SAXS/SANS), and biophysical techniques (i.e isothermal titration calorimetry, static and dynamic light scattering) to describe the structure-function relationships of biomolecules. Computational methods provide additional insight in the cases where obtaining precise experimental data is difficult.

The structural information provides an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of basic cellular pathways, and of molecular processes linked to human disease. Our studies focus on fundamental processes in the regulation of gene expression, cellular signal transduction and peroxisome biogenesis. In order to tackle large protein complexes and fibril structures, we develop and improve novel experimental techniques based on solution- and solid-state NMR. The molecular mechanisms studied are implicated in various diseases, such as neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and cancer.

The structural data, in combination with chemical biology approaches, provide a basis for the rational design and development of small molecule inhibitors and novel bioactive compounds. We use the results of our structural research to rationally guide the development of such molecules with a potential therapeutic use.

Our Institute is formed by Research Groups:

Research Group Sattler

Research Group Reif

Research Group Niessing

Research Group Hagn

Research Group Tetko

Research Group Popowicz