TU München establishes center for protein research


The new research center will analyze how proteins interact. The picture shows micro rings created by fibers of the muscle protein aktin. (Picture: Chair for Cellular Biophysics / TUM)
The new research center will analyze how proteins interact. The picture shows micro rings created by fibers of the muscle protein aktin. (Picture: Chair for Cellular Biophysics / TUM

Technische Universität München (TUM) is establishing the “TUM Center for Functional Protein Assemblies (CPA)” to concentrate its wide-ranging expertise in protein research. It will conduct cross-departmental research into the functionalities and mechanisms of action of proteins – a key to understanding cells, tissues, and organs. On this basis, the interdisciplinary Center will develop biomedical applications, for example to treat diseases caused by malfunctions in the interplay between biomolecules. The Joint Science Conference (GWK) decided today that the German Federal Government and the State of Bavaria will fund the new CPA building on the Garching Campus to the tune of 40 million euros.

The “TUM Center for Functional Protein Assemblies” will unite the competences of TUM in protein chemistry, structural elucidation, chemical biology, single-molecule biophysics, cellular biophysics, DNA nanotechnology, molecular dynamics simulation, and bioengineering in a ca. 4,000 square meter building complex in order to fully exploit the methodological and technological potentials available. New appointments will strengthen the fields of biomedical engineering and biomolecular systems engineering.

In its assessment, the German Council of Science and Humanities cited this particularly close-knit interplay of the various scientific disciplines and engineering sciences, as well as the planned transfer of research findings to medical applications. The Center will serve as a beacon for Europe as a whole. TUM ranks among the preeminent institutions in the field of protein research. It is a key player in the “Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM)”. The new Magnetic Resonance Center, a further new building in Garching where a world-class 1.2 gigahertz spectrometer will soon be built, will extend the range of available methodologies.

Protein interactions lead to complex dynamics

The human cell consists of a complex ensemble of biomolecules whose interactions make life possible. Malfunctions in this interplay can lead to diseases. To understand tissues and organs and to be able to cure such diseases, it is essential to understand the operation principles of cells.

Among the cellular biomolecules, proteins make up a highly diverse class whose functions range from structure formation (cytoskeleton) to biomolecular catalysis (enzymes). However, proteins rarely perform their functions in isolation. Rather, cellular processes are based on the fact that a large number of synchronized protein interactions lead to new phenomena that go well beyond the functionality of the individual molecules and cannot be derived from individual interactions. For this reason, scientists speak of protein assemblies.

The new Center will study these dynamic protein interactions and the resulting functions. In particular, it will focus on protein interactions in conjunction with protein-folding processes, the formation of structures in the cytoskeletal system, and active-substance pathways. The aim of the interdisciplinary approach is to shed light on the complexity of biological systems, identify their molecular and supramolecular mechanisms of action, and develop (bio)medical applications on this basis.

Prof. Andreas Bausch
Chair of Cell Biophysics
Tel: +49 89 289 12480

Prof. Stephan Sieber
Chair of Organic Chemistry