Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Robert Tampé
Protein assemblies and molecular machineries in cellular membranes are central to essential life processes. They establish homeostasis in compartmentalized cells, transduce energy, translocate nutrients and metabolites, control the communication within and between cells, and mediate interactions with pathogens, The CRC aims for an in-depth, quantitative understanding of the structure, dynamics, and function of key membrane-associated assemblies, machineries, and supercomplexes as a basis for a multiscale decoding of the associated cellular processes. Despite their pivotal role, protein assemblies and machineries associated with cellular membranes are intrinsically difficult to study and remain poorly understood. Our CRC aims to discover the organizational principles and operational mechanisms of protein assemblies and machineries at and across compartmentalization boundaries.
The CRC projects are thematically intertwined and take full advantage of the many advanced methodologies and emerging techniques available through the CRC members. Each project is based on uniform principles and focuses on central topics to elucidate the role and modular organization of functional units confined in membranes. The CRC projects also interlock in the innovative use of integrative in vitro and in situ approaches, ranging from cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and high-resolution light microscopy, to native mass spectrometry, ultrafast spectroscopy, optogenetics, and artificial intelligence (AI)-guided molecular dynamics simulations and modelling. In summary, the close thematic and methodological connections between the groups and their tight interactions place this CRC into a unique position to uncover fundamental principles of membrane protein assemblies in cell compartmentalization that are conserved between different cells and organisms.