The German Research Foundation (DFG) will fund a new research group starting on August 1. The goal of the 17 participating scientists from Magdeburg, Berlin, Bremen and Haifa is to analyze protein balance in nerve cells. In addition to the Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology (LIN), the University of Magdeburg, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Magdeburg, Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Bremen and the Technion in Haifa are project partners.
Neurons are highly polarized cells that communicate via synapses, to whose structure and function a large number of proteins contribute. This leads to high dynamics at the synapses, the site of neurotransmission: specialized processes of protein exchange and renewal are required. How this is regulated locally at the presynapse and how the interconnected process - proteostasis - functions in this process is a central question of cell biology that has so far only been partially answered. The research group "Membrane trafficking processes underlying presynaptic proteostasis" is now looking for answers.
The DFG Research Group 5228 is being funded with more than 5 million euros over an initial period of four years. Research group spokesperson Dr. Michael R. Kreutz from the LIN is looking forward to the joint work: "We have brought together an excellent team that contributes state-of-the-art methods and approaches to find out how the renewal of synaptic protein abundance is molecularly organized and controlled. This is a fascinating question, considering that a neuron in the human brain must replace the entire protein inventory of a presynapse several thousand times during its lifetime. This is an enormous challenge because the exchange processes take place during normal 'operation' and most of the protein synthesis as well as degradation takes place in the cell body, far away from the synapses."
Prof. Dr. Daniela Dieterich, Dean of the Medical Faculty Magdeburg, adds: "This basic research is also relevant for understanding the development of neurodegenerative diseases. This is because disturbances of the synaptic protein balance frequently occur in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or ataxias. Deciphering the mechanisms precisely could provide new starting points for a targeted treatment strategy."
DFG research groups enable scientists to address current and pressing issues in their fields and establish innovative lines of work. In total, the DFG is currently funding 173 research groups, 14 clinical research groups and 13 collegiate research groups throughout Germany.