Heidelberg University: 2 Researchers Receive ERC Advanced Grant

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Heidelberg University: 2 Researchers Receive ERC Advanced Grant

On April 10, 2017, Posted by , In Press Releases, With Comments Off on Heidelberg University: 2 Researchers Receive ERC Advanced Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded biochemist Prof. Dr Ed Hurt and molecular biologist Prof. Dr Bernd Bukau a highly endowed ERC Advanced Grant for outstanding research leaders in Europe. Both grants comprise around 2 Mio Euro funding.

Prof. Bukau

Prof. Bukau is director of the Centre for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH) and at the same time does research at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ). Approximately 2.1 million euros are available to fund the research work, which will start in summer 2017.

In the ERC-supported research project “TransFold – Molecular Biology of Nascent Chains: Co-translational Folding and Assembly of Proteins in Eukaryotes” Prof. Bukau and his team are focusing on the process of protein folding. How does the unique three-dimensional structure arise for each protein and how do different proteins find each other to form functional protein complexes? “In our investigations with bacteria we have shown that the folding and assembly of proteins takes place during synthesis through ribosomes in translation, i.e. co-translationally. Here molecular chaperones play a major role, assisting and regulating this maturation process,” explains the Heidelberg molecular biologist.

Prof. Bukau’s group now wishes to find out how these processes work in eukaryotes – from yeast cells to human cells – and how they are regulated.

Read full press release here

Ed Hurt

Ed Hurt teaches and conducts research at the Heidelberg University Biochemistry Center (BZH).

In the funded project, entitled “Encapsulated Eukaryotic Ribosome Assembly”, Prof. Hurt and his team will study the earliest known ribosomal precursor, the 90S pre-ribosome. Their previous research already demonstrated that the smaller of the two subunits that make up a ribosome is enclosed by a kind of shell during its biogenesis to allow seamless and targeted assembly of the protein factories. The Heidelberg research results suggest an innovative concept in RNA biology, namely that the newly produced ribosomal RNA folds and matures in a protected environment. Now the researchers hope to discover how the 90S pre-ribosome temporarily encapsulates the RNA to protect it from undesirable interactions. Also of interest is how the small ribosomal subunit “emerges” from this cast in a cascade of harmoniously coordinated reactions in order to produce a functioning ribosome. These insights into the mechanisms of the ribosomal “delivery room” should improve our understanding of how this multifaceted development process relates to other important cellular processes and to the development of diseases such as cancer.

Read full press release here

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