№ 241/2015 from Aug 06, 2015
The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 958 "Scaffolding of Membranes - Molecular Mechanisms and Cellular Functions" at Freie Universität has been granted funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for an additional four years. Since 2011 researchers involved in this CRC have been investigating the spatiotemporally controlled assembly of protein scaffolds at membranes as it plays crucial roles in various processes in cells. Employing a multidisciplinary approach, the researchers investigate how protein assemblies form membrane-based scaffolds. They aim to find out how these assemblies control the functions of the cell, for example, during cell fusion, synaptic signal transmission, and differentiations. The participating scientists explore general principles of the organization and dynamics of membrane-associated protein scaffolds and over the long term aim to develop tools to influence the function. The spokesperson for the CRC is Professor Dr. Stephan Sigrist from the Institute of Biology, Freie Universität.
During the first funding period scientists in the CRC were successful in studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of membrane scaffolding in different cellular and organismic models as well as across a large range of temporal and spatial scales. This included scaffolds that organize exo- and endocytic processes at chemical neuronal synapses as well as scaffolds that receive and process signals at cell membranes. They also studied scaffolds that organize cellular signaling and intracellular transport in the context of physiological adaptations during cell migration and development.
In terms of methodology, the scientists were able to establish a wide range of imaging techniques, in particular in the field of high resolution microscopy. This enabled them to visualize the organization of protein scaffolding spatially and temporally with a very high resolution. Using structural biology methods they were also able to gain insights into the molecular architecture of structures that are responsible for scaffolding intracellular membranes. With other novel approaches, the scientists hope to clarify exactly how membrane-associated scaffolding interacts with lipid membranes and how it would be possible to perturb such functions.
The participating institutions are the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the medical school operated jointly by Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität.