Biomedical Science

The correct timing and location of gene expression is essential for normal growth and development. Recently, Prof. Ann Ehrenhofer-Murray's laboratory showed that two rival enzymes (histone deacetylases) regulate gene expression in an unexpected manner: although they share the same enzymatic activity, one is equipped to take the substrate away from the other, thereby gaining control over gene expression.
Scientists working in the human genetics laboratory of Prof. Bernhard Horsthemke have discovered that the retinoblastoma gene, a paradigmatic tumour suppressor gene, is subject to genomic imprinting. Their work is also highly relevant to evolutionary biology. A BMBF consortium project is also investigating rare diseases caused by an imprinting error. The researchers' aim is to map the imprinting error in the human genome.
The research at the Institute for Physiology under the direction of Prof. Joachim Fandrey focuses on regulation of cell metabolism by external factors, in particular the effects of oxygen deficiency. The latest results demonstrate modulation of cellular oxygen detection in blood poisoning (sepsis) by nitrate monoxide and bacterial cell wall particles. The researchers were able to produce 3D representations of protein-protein interactions in living cells using Fluorescence Energy Resonance Transfer (FRET).
A BMBF project led by Prof. Elke Winterhager sets out to verify potential prognostic markers for pre-eclampsia in order to permit early and reliable diagnosis of this severe disorder in pregnant women.
The Department of Molecular Cell Biology, headed by Prof. Perihan Nalbant, is working on the molecular mechanisms of cellular migration. The group recently identified an important signalling node which regulates the coordination of the cytoskeleton with cell substrate adhesions and thus plays a crucial role in cell migration.