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Membrane proteins and their transport in the cell

How are membrane proteins correctly assembled in the cell membrane and transported through the complex network of organelles in the cell? Errors in protein transport may result in disease.

Membranes surround our cells and divide the cell interior into separate compartments and organelles. They consist of lipids and embedded membrane proteins. Our group works for a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of how membrane proteins are incorporated into the lipid bilayer and how they are sorted and transported to their intended organelles.

Insertion of membrane proteins
We analyze the process of protein integration in living cells (mammalian cell culture and yeast cells). We challenge the cell with engineered model membrane proteins or mutate the translocon, the machinery that catalyzes this process, to find out the molecular mechanisms.

Membrane transport to the cell surface
Proteins are sorted between organelles and transported in membrane vesicles. Our research focuses on the molecules and mechanisms that mediate this. In particular, we study the pathways how proteins are transported to the cell surface and secreted.

Regulated secretion
The peptide hormone vasopressin regulates water retention in the kidney. Mutations that disturb transport and secretion cause cell death and lead to the disease diabetes insipidus. They produce protein aggregations similar to amyloids found in neurological diseases like Alzheimer's. We are testing the hypothesis that amyloid-like aggregation is normally involved in the formation of secretory granules for regulated hormone secretion.