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Eckl, E.M., Ziegemann, O., Krumwiede, L., Fessler, E., and Jae, L.T.
Cell Mol Life Sci, 2021, online ahead of print.
doi: 10.1007/s00018-021-03887-7

Sensing, signaling and surviving mitochondrial stress

Mitochondrial fidelity is a key determinant of longevity and was found to be perturbed in a multitude of disease contexts ranging from neurodegeneration to heart failure. Tight homeostatic control of the mitochondrial proteome is a crucial aspect of mitochondrial function, which is severely complicated by the evolutionary origin and resulting peculiarities of the organelle. This is, on one hand, reflected by a range of basal quality control factors such as mitochondria-resident chaperones and proteases, that assist in import and folding of precursors as well as removal of aggregated proteins. On the other hand, stress causes the activation of several additional mechanisms that counteract any damage that may threaten mitochondrial function. Countermeasures depend on the location and intensity of the stress and on a range of factors that are equipped to sense and signal the nature of the encountered perturbation. Defective mitochondrial import activates mechanisms that combat the accumulation of precursors in the cytosol and the import pore. To resolve proteotoxic stress in the organelle interior, mitochondria depend on nuclear transcriptional programs, such as the mitochondrial unfolded protein response and the integrated stress response. If organelle damage is too severe, mitochondria signal for their own destruction in a process termed mitophagy, thereby preventing further harm to the mitochondrial network and allowing the cell to salvage their biological building blocks. Here, we provide an overview of how different types and intensities of stress activate distinct pathways aimed at preserving mitochondrial fidelity.

 


 

graduation

Congratulations on your PhD!

 

Valerie Goh


Unravelling the functional interconnections among the mitochondrial uniporter complex components

RG: Fabiana Perocchi

 


 

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Bauer, J., Weiler, S., Fernholz, M.H.P., Laubender, D., Scheuss, V., Hübener, M., Bonhoeffer, T., and Rose, T.
(IMPRS-LS students are in bold)
Neuron, 2021, online ahead of print.
doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.05.036

Limited functional convergence of eye-specific inputs in the retinogeniculate pathway of the mouse

Segregation of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons by type and eye of origin is considered a hallmark of dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) structure. However, recent anatomical studies have shown that neurons in mouse dLGN receive input from multiple RGC types of both retinae. Whether convergent input leads to relevant functional interactions is unclear. We studied functional eye-specific retinogeniculate convergence using dual-color optogenetics in vitro. dLGN neurons were strongly dominated by input from one eye. Most neurons received detectable input from the non-dominant eye, but this input was weak, with a prominently reduced AMPAR:NMDAR ratio. Consistent with this, only a small fraction of thalamocortical neurons was binocular in vivo across visual stimuli and cortical projection layers. Anatomical overlap between RGC axons and dLGN neuron dendrites alone did not explain the strong bias toward monocularity. We conclude that functional eye-specific input selection and refinement limit convergent interactions in dLGN, favoring monocularity.

 


 

graduation

Congratulations on your PhD!

 

Hui-Lan Huang


Deciphering the role of the sugar-induced transcription factor, Mondo in Drosophila Melanogaster

RG: Andreas Ladurner

 


 

For her insights into the neuronal mechanism of motion perception, Dr. Yunmin Wu is awarded the Otto Hahn Medal. The scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology decoded the neuronal basis of an optical illusion in the zebrafish brain. For her achievements, she now receives the 7500€ prize of the Max Planck Society, which is awarded annually for excellent scientific achievements by young talents.

It all started with a cat video. After Yunmin Wu saw that optical illusions also work in animals, the doctoral student came up with the idea for her own research. She would trigger the motion aftereffect, also called the "waterfall illusion," in the tiny zebrafish larvae she was studying in Herwig Baier's department. In this way, she sought to better understand what actually happens in the brain when movements are perceived.

In the brain, several thousand neurons process movements and their direction. Using the waterfall illusion, Yunmin Wu was able to show that only a handful of cells out of this large number of neurons are necessary and sufficient for motion vision. "If we ask the right questions with the right tools, we are able to see very interesting things that we didn't know before," Yunmin Wu affirms. "It's the idea behind my project that I'm proud of. I'm very pleased that this is being recognized by the Max Planck Society and the award committee."

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The Royal Society has elected Elena Conti, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, as new Foreign Member. Founded in 1660, the United Kingdom’s National Academy of Science is a prestigious community committed to the highest quality of science. By electing Elena Conti as new member, the Society recognizes her outstanding work in the fields of RNA and structural biology. The admission ceremony is planned to take place in summer 2021, contingent of the pandemic situation.

About the new elected Foreign Member

In cells with a nucleus, ribonucleic acid, RNA, connects genetic information on DNA level in the nucleus with protein production in the cytoplasm. How is RNA transported from the nucleus into cell cytoplasm and how is RNA degraded? Which molecules and processes are necessary? Elena Conti, head of department of “Cellular Structural Biology” at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, has been working on these research questions for many years.

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graduation

Congratulations on your PhD!

 

Alessandro Scacchetti

 

In vivo functional dissection of CHRAC/ACF and DOMINO chromatin regulators

RG: Peter Becker

 


 

Bavaria invests up to 500 million euros in the competitive development of the Martinsried Max Planck Campus into an outstanding international research hub

In the coming years, the life sciences will be the focus of scientific competition - both for attracting outstanding minds as well as in terms of corresponding infrastructures. The Max Planck Society (MPG) has therefore decided to further develop its Martinsried campus into a flagship for life sciences beyond Germany and Europe. The Free State of Bavaria intends to fund the project with up to 500 million euros over the next ten years, subject to the approval of the state parliament. Minister President Markus Söder and Max Planck President Martin Stratmann signed a corresponding Memorandum of Understanding on April 29, 2021 in the Max Planck House in Munich.

The Martinsried site is already a beacon in European biotechnology and characterized by close networking between academic research, medicine, and industry. The majority of the medium-sized companies located here are spin-offs from scientific institutions, many originating from the two Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry and of Neurobiology in Martinsried. In the past five years alone, 40 new start-ups were founded. Martinsried has thus developed into the Munich biotech center, with almost 100 companies in total to date.

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graduation

Congratulations on your PhD!

 

Katharina Brandstetter

 

Investigating the 3D chromatin architecture with fluorescence microscopy

RG: Heinrich Leonhardt

 


 

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Schumacher, S., Vazquez Nunez, R., Biertümpfel, C., and Mizuno, N.
FEBS J, 2021, Online ahead of print.
doi: 10.1111/febs.16023

Bottom-up reconstitution of focal adhesion complexes

Focal adhesions (FA) are large macromolecular assemblies relevant for various cellular and pathological events such as migration, polarization and metastatic cancer formation. At FA sites at the migrating periphery of a cell, hundreds of players gather and form a network to respond to extra cellular stimuli transmitted by the integrin receptor, the most upstream component within a cell, initiating the FA signaling pathway. Numerous cellular experiments have been performed to understand the FA architecture and functions, however, their intricate network formation hampers unraveling the precise molecular actions of individual players. Here, in vitro bottom-up reconstitution presents an advantageous approach for elucidating the FA machinery and the hierarchical crosstalk of involved cellular players.