News from the Institute


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IBC2 director Ivan Đikić has been awarded with an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). This is the third time he receives the prestigious grant that comes along with research funding in the amount of € 2.5 million for the next five years.
With his grant, Ivan Đikić intends to unravel molecular mechanisms of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) remodelling via ER-phagy pathways. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the largest intracellular membrane system and covers important functions in numerous processes. It is essential for cellular homeostasis and wellbeing. To fulfill its diverse functions, the ER is constantly adapting its shape, and Ivan Đikić is amongst the pioneers in shedding light on the regulation of these dynamic changes. He postulated that ER-phagy, a selective autophagy route targeting ER, is a major driver of ER remodelling and found first molecular cues on how this process is regulated. 
 

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Defects in SUMOylation have long been suspected as potential drivers of carcinogenesis, however, positive proof has been lacking. The post-translational modification of proteins with the ubiquitin-like modifier SUMO is known to regulate numerous essential cellular functions, and aberrant SUMO patterns have frequently been found in cancers. Now, a team of researchers around IBC2 Vice Director Stefan Müller and Ulrich Keller from Charité has identified the missing mechanistic link: They identified a tumor suppressing function for SUMO deconjugase SENP6, one of the enzymes responsible for reversion of SUMO modifications. In one third of B-cell lymphoma patients, SENP6 was found mutated or deleted. Loss of SENP6 was then in a next step shown to directly affect DNA repair and genome maintenance by destabilizing protein complexes involved in both essential pathways, ultimately leading to genome instability. 

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The great majority of mitochondrial proteins is encoded on the nuclear genome. As a consequence, translation of these proteins in the cytosol is followed by their translocation into mitochondria. Compromised mitochondrial protein import has been linked to various pathologies. Up to this point, investigation of protein import into organelles remained challenging due to a lack of suitable tools. The team around Christian Münch developed a proteomics-based assay that allows examining mitochondrial protein uptake at the global scale in unperturbed cells.

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Christian Münch, group leader at the Institute of Biochemistry II of Goethe University Frankfurt, was selected as an EMBO Young Investigator. The EMBO Young Investigator Program recognizes and supports life scientists, who have already demonstrated scientific excellence and are within the first years of their independent group. It provides with financial support, access to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) core facilities, as well as a variety of training and networking opport

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The Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz has welcomed 13 new members in their ranks, among them IBC2 Director Ivan Đikić. Đikić was in prominent company – BioNTech founders Uğur Şahin and Özlem Tureci were also amongst the new members announced. The Mainz Academy is one of Germany’s eight academies of science, its objectives are the cultivation of sciences and literature as well as preservation and promotion of culture. It is divided into three Classes: Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Literature and Music.

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