Protein Evolution - Andrei Lupas
The Basic Building Blocks of Life
Proteins provide the chemical basis for all processes of life. We investigate their origin and the evolution of their folds and mechanisms of action by means of bioinformatics, biochemistry and sturctural biology.
Proteins are essential building blocks of all living cells. Indeed, life can be viewed as resulting substantially from the chemical activity of proteins. Because of their importance, it is hardly surprising that ancestors for most proteins observed today were already present at the time of the 'last common ancestor', a primordial organism from which all life on Earth is descended. How did the first proteins arise? How does their sequence of amino acids enable their chemical activity? These questions are at the center of our scientific efforts at our Department of Protein Evolution.
Proteins are the most complex chemical structures found in nature. They have to fold into complicated three-dimensional structures in order to become active. This poses a particular challenge when it comes to explaining their origin from non-living matter.
Departmental Research Groups
Group leader: Birte Hernandez Alvarez
We study structure-function relationships in proteins from an evolutionary perspective.
Group leader: Marcus Hartmann
Our mission is to understand and manipulate macromolecular machines and systems.
Group leader: Vikram Alva
Many proteins share detectable similarities in sequence and structure. Sequence-based comparison of modern proteins shows that they fall into only about ten thousand domain families
Group leader: Jörg Martin
Using a variety of biochemistry, biophysics and microbiology techniques, we focus on prokaryotic model systems to better understand these intricate processes.
The primary goal of structural biology is a mechanistic understanding of biological macromolecules and of biological processes so that they can be described in the language of physics and chemistry.
Group leader: Murray Coles
Our group concentrates on protein structure determination, with a special focus on proteins involved in transmembrane signaling.
Group Leader: Oliver Weichenrieder
‘Selfish’ RNA likely is at the origin of all life on earth and it persists today in the form of retrotransposons and RNA-based viruses. We study human LINE-1 and Alu RNAs and how these ‘molecular parasites’ copy their sequences into genomic DNA.