Protein Research - Structural preconditions for life
The vectorial flow of energy, matter, and information forms the basis for all life processes. Thousands of molecules, many of them themselves being composed of thousands of atoms, interact to realize these activities. To unveil the underlying mechanisms, zoologists, botanists, microbiologists, biochemists, biophysicists and physicians cooperate closely.
What, for example, happens in a cell, when a signal from the environment hits it, and allows it to mount an appropriate response? This is but one of the many questions many questions in focus - with the ultimate goal to understand each process out of the structural interaction of the molecules involved. Defects in molecular interactions cause many diseases. Thus, knowing the process proper may help to gain access to therapies.
This interdisciplinary thematic priority has been developed systematically at the Ruhr-University since more than 15 years, e.g., with the DFG Graduate College "Biogenesis and Mechanisms of Complex Cell Functions" in 1990 followed by the DFG Collaborative Research Centre "Molecular Biology of Complex Performances of Botanical Systems" (SFB 480) in 1998. In 2002, the Protein-Centre and the Medical Proteome Centre went into operations to establish state-of-the-art protein research on campus. Since 2005, a second DFG Collaborative Research Centre "GTP- and ATP-driven Membrane Processes" (SFB 642) focusses on how signals are relayed across membranes. The faculties Biology, Chemistry, Medicine and the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Physiology Dortmund are cooperating in these endeavours, and of course, they interact with scientists from the priority areas Interfacial Systems Chemistry and Neurosciences .
Current topics range from the determination of the structure of single proteins at atomic resolution and the picosecond kinetic analysis of processes within and between proteins to the molecular elucidation of multi-step signalling cascades underlying the process of smelling, and extend to the functional analysis of many sensory and developmental processes in healthy or diseased organisms - from microbes to plants, animals and man.