- investigation of subcellular GCPR-signalling in cell culture, organotypic environment and in living animals
- Characterization of specific G-proteins and downstream effectors involved in GPCR-mediated signal, cross-talk and feedback mechanisms
- Post-translational modifications of the signaling proteins and their role in the regulation of the signal transduction
In our experiments we apply all current methods of molecular and cell biology as well as protein biochemistry and receptor pharmacology. In addition, we possess broad experiences in electrophysiology (patch-clamp), time-lapse microscopy and fluorescence microscopy. I our lab we also established the modern biophysical approaches for molecular imaging including, Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) in cuvette and at single-cell level, fluorescence life-time measurements (FLIM) as well as bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET). To analyse the expression level of different proteins we routinely use the quantitative RT-PCR analysis (TaqMan and SYBR Green) as well as single-cell RT-PCR techniques.
In times of an aging society and thus increased age-associated diseases, healthy aging is of huge interest. We try to understand why and how exactly neurons age in culture and in organisms. Currently, we are deciphering molecular pathways linked to metabolic signalling (mTOR), calcium homeostasis and autophagy and how these cascades change with age. Furthermore, we try to slow down ageing process by substances such as spermidine and analyse in detail how these chemicals interfere/prevent aging.
The neurotransmitter serotonin modulates a multitude of cellular singals that influence morphology and activity of neurons. This is essential for physiological processes, like learning and memory, but can impact also the development of neurological disorders such as depression, axiety, Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.
Our research focuses on the role of the serotonin receptor 7 in health and disease. Currently, we study how receptor-mediated signalling influences neurodegeneration induced by aggregation of the microtuble-associated protein Tau, and search for therapeutical strategies to treat tauophaties. Furthermore, we are interested in the interplay of the serotonin receptor 7 with the extracellular matrix which is an important component of the neuronal network. Receptor-dependent remodeling of the extracellular matrix contributes to cellular reshaping and thus process including learning.
Palmitoylation is the post-translational covalent attachment of palmitate to proteins at cysteine residues via thioester bonds. This protein modification is reversible and can play the key role in many physiological and pathological processes. The focus of our investigations is to understand the role of palmitoylation in the central nervous system. We found that palmitoylation is involved in the regulation of the serotonin system and demonstrated a reduced palmitoylation status of serotonin receptor 1A within the prefrontal cortex in post-mortem samples from depressive patients who died by suicide. Also, we focus on the role of palmitoyltion for small GTPases such as Cdc42 and extracellular matrix proteins like CD44.