Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dark proteome as the focus of a new Priority Program funded by the German Research Foundation

01.06.2018

Edward Lemke of Mainz University to coordinate the DFG Priority Program researching intrinsically disordered proteins and their function in the cell

Professor Edward Lemke will be coordinating a new Priority Program researching the formation and function of characteristic protein complexes in the cell. The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) has approved the establishment of the program from 2019, with a budget of EUR 6 million in the first three years.


Dark proteome: The new DFG Priority Program aims to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that occur in the protein droplets.

photo/©: Gemma Estrada Girona

The Molecular Mechanisms of Functional Phase Separation program (SPP 2191) is in one of the most groundbreaking research areas in the life sciences supported by the German Research Foundation. In January 2019, Lemke was appointed Professor of Synthetic Biophysics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and, conjointly, an Adjunct Director at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB). He is also a fellow of Mainz University's Gutenberg Research College. As a biophysical chemist, Lemke is a pioneer in the field of intrinsically disordered proteins.

"The DFG approval of the program is further proof of the excellence of life science research in Mainz and also represents another milestone in the successful collaboration between Mainz University and the Institute of Molecular Biology. As an Adjunct Professor, Lemke is able to link his research at the university particularly closely with his work at IMB.

The dual affiliation opens up unique synergies in his discipline," explained the Minister of Science of Rhineland-Palatinate, Professor Konrad Wolf. "Just a few days ago the nonprofit Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate announced that they are granting IMB a further EUR 106 million from 2020 to 2027. The announcement of the new DFG program to be based at Mainz University validates this funding decision."

Partially structured proteins for highly dynamic compartments

Proteins are the building blocks of life, present in every cell. They form muscle tissue and play essential roles as enzymes and in the immune response, to name just a few examples. The function of proteins was thought so far to be essentially dependent on their three-dimensional structure which is the result of the way in which the amino acid chains are folded.

However, not all proteins have an ordered three-dimensional structure. A relatively large proportion, in humans estimated at over 30 percent, is formed by disordered or partially-ordered proteins. These intrinsically disordered proteins have, as a group, been termed the dark proteome. How these structures are employed by cells to enable novel dynamic functions was discovered only a few years ago.

"Our cells contain protein droplets, which swim in the cell fluid like oil drops on water," Lemke described the current status of research. The protein droplets form via phase separation, in which the cell's "spaghetti molecules," i.e., the intrinsically disordered proteins and single-strand RNA, spontaneously bind together at high concentrations.

"In the cells, new compartments form that are not separated from the rest of the cell by a membrane. These are small protein-RNA factories, which perform new functions and are highly dynamic," explained Lemke. The nucleolus in the cell nucleus, in which many of the cell's fundamental processes occur, is one such mini factory, while stress granules, which the cell forms in response to stress, are another example. However, when proteins incorrectly aggregate they can also result in a variety of diseases.

Understanding phase separation as a functional instrument of the cell

The new DFG Priority Program aims to shed light on these protein structures. The term "dark proteome" refers to the difficulty in visualizing the intrinsically disordered proteins in their original spaghetti-like state, making them difficult to study. "The focus of the Priority Program is to understand how cells exploit the phase separation. We are keen to find out the new functions that the collective of proteins perform. These are fundamental processes that, up to now, biology and the life sciences have largely overlooked," asserted Lemke.

The scientists involved in SPP 2191 will be employing groundbreaking new experimental methods. Lemke also hopes that many concepts and techniques from polymer chemistry can be transferred into the life sciences. Thus, one potential source of collaboration is the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz.

The German Research Foundation has now invited proposals for the newly approved Priority Program to select individual project partners for the overarching subject area. DFG Priority Programs are usually funded for six years.

Image:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/10_imp_phasenseparation_spp.jpg
Dark proteome: The new DFG Priority Program aims to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that occur in the protein droplets.
photo/©: Gemma Estrada Girona

Contact:
Professor Dr. Edward Lemke
Synthetic Biophysics
Institute of Molecular Physiology
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
55099 Mainz, GERMANY
e-mail: edlemke@uni-mainz.de
http://www.lemkelab.com
http://www.imb.de/research/lemke/research/

Related links:
http://www.gfk.uni-mainz.de/eng/2266.php – Professor Edward Lemke at the Gutenberg Research College (GRC)
https://www.embl.de/research/units/scb/lemke/index.html – Lemke Group "High resolution studies of protein plasticity" at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/programmes/coordinated_programmes/priority... – DFG Priority Programs
http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/announcements_proposals/2018/info_wissensc... – Call for proposals for the SPP 2191 DFG Priority Program
http://www.spp2191.com/ – website of the SPP 2191 DFG Priority Program

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>