Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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Starting in 2016, we establish a state-of-the-art electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) facility within the BMBF financed Center of Innovation Competence (ZIK) “HALOmem” at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Our facility is open for all institutes of the Faculties of Natural Sciences I and II. It will provide a platform for sample screening, semi-automated sample vitrification and data acquisition as well as intense computing resources for image processing. Core instrument is a 300 kV JEM3200FSC (JEOL), which is equipped with a K2 Summit direct electron detector (Gatan). The main focus of our research is the structure determination of macromolecular protein complexes using electron cryo-tomography and single-particle cryo-EM.

My own research focus lies on morphological and structural studies of peripheral membrane proteins, fluorinated surfactants for membrane-protein research, and phosphatidylserine enriched phospholipids as anti-inflammatory agents.

We study the supramolecular arrangement of peripheral membrane proteins (N-BAR) on membranes, where we pay special attention to the composition of the sarcolemma membrane. We could show that the membrane lipid composition is crucial for N-BAR binding and membrane curvature generation. Using cryo-ET, we found that N-BAR domains assemble into scaffolds of low long-range order that form flexible membrane tubules. These insights are fundamental to our understanding of T-tubule formation and function in human skeletal muscle.

The second key aspect of my research, in part together with collaboration partners, is the self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules, such as lipids, bolalipids, (fluorinated) surfactants, block-copolymers, core-shell polymers, as well as the interaction of surfactants, peptides and proteins with model membranes (vesicles and monolayers). Here we use negative stain EM, cryo-EM, and DLS to elucidate the structure of the self-assembled aggregates. Furthermore, we apply the monolayer film balance technique to study the driving forces for self-assembly and membrane interaction processes.

Polymer-dekorierte Vesikel
(P. Scholtysek)

Polymer-dekorierte Vesikel (P. Scholtysek)

Polymer-dekorierte Vesikel
(P. Scholtysek)

Flüssigkristall-dekorierte Vesikel
(B.-D. Lechner)

Flüssigkristall-dekorierte Vesikel (B.-D. Lechner)

Flüssigkristall-dekorierte Vesikel
(B.-D. Lechner)

Bacterial model membrane vesicles
(S. Finger)

Bacterial model membrane vesicles (S. Finger)

Bacterial model membrane vesicles
(S. Finger)

Bolalipid-DPPC discs
(S. Drescher)

Bolalipid-DPPC discs (S. Drescher)

Bolalipid-DPPC discs
(S. Drescher)

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