Research interests

Molecular Mechanisms of protein transport to membranes and of membrane proteins Protein transport to or across membranes is a fundamental process in all organisms. Newly synthesized proteins have to reach their final destination with high precision and specialized transport systems ensure that mis-targeting is avoided. The signal recognition particle (SRP) targets membrane proteins and secretory proteins to the plasma membrane in bacteria and the endoplasmic reticulum in eukaryotes. Although the overall composition of the SRP system differs, the central ribonucleoprotein core and the general outline of GTP-dependent targeting are conserved in all three domains of life. We study the molecular mechanisms of how the SRP system participates in protein targeting with a focus on signal sequence recognition. The regulation of small G proteins invovled in protein targeting by specifiic protein/protein, protein/RNA and protein/lipid interactions is also one of our major interests. In addition, we study the insertion of membrane proteins and - after their insertion - how membrane transporters and G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) function in membrane transport and signalling.


Methods applied

In order to obtain a complete picture of the structure and function of the proteins and complexes involved in protein targeting and membrane insertion, we combine X-ray structure analysis with biochemical and biophysical methods.