Biology is currently experiencing a paradigm shift - from studying individual genes and proteins towards analysing the structure and function of gene and protein networks. We are interested in understanding motor protein mediated processes in eukaryotic cells that are essential for muscle function, neuronal transport, cell division and others, at a systems level. Over the past few years, we have developed experimental methodologies to gain insight into the function of the dynein/dynactin motor protein complex at atomic resolution, and computational methods to determine the motor protein content of the eukaryotes.
The basis for the understanding of intracellular transport in eukaryotes at a cellular or organismal level is the determination of the motor protein content of the genomes. In this respect we highly profit from the continuously increasing amount of finished genome sequences. However, the process of genome annotation still lags considerably behind that of genome data generation. But it is the annotation that connects the sequence to the biology of the organism. Thus, we manually annotate the motor proteins using the possibilities of comparative genomics and multiple sequence alignments. To cope with the exponentially increasing amount of data we develop database and gene determination tools.
Biochemistry / Structural Biology
To understand the function of the motor proteins at atomic resolution we need precise models. A few kinesin and myosin crystal structures are available, but high-resolution data for the dynein/dynactin complex is still missing. Therefore, we are developing methods for the production of difficult-to-express proteins. For this purpose we are mainly using the lower eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum.