Institute of Biochemistry
Molecular Tools for Probing, Manipulating and Imaging Membrane Shaping, Organization and Compartmentalization

We are interested in how biological membranes are shaped and organized and how the properties can influence the regulation of cell state and fate. Inspired by biological phenomena, we develop molecular tools -natural derived and synthetic- that help to probe, manipulate and image the structure and composition of cell membranes. Of special interest are the (re-)organization of membrane proteins such as receptors and lipids as well as the modulation of membrane interfaces by small molecules (peptides, lipids, etc.).
We deploy a blend of organic chemistry, chemical biology, and cell biology approaches to elaborate biological phenomena at membranes. Specifically, we develop and employ (opto)chemical approaches to perturb membrane-associated processes. Molecular tools with high spatiotemporal control are of high demand to connect membrane (protein) reorganization, shape and compartmentalization with cellular response. We primarily focus on the design of small molecules (such as peptides, lipids) to target and modulate membrane interfaces as well as membrane proteins (such as membrane receptor).    
As membrane proteins -transmembrane or peripheral- play core roles in maintaining cell functions as receptors, enzymes, and transporters, one focus is to spectroscopically monitor membrane proteins in live, intact cells. This allows the real-time, non-destructive observation of their protein function, dynamic and localization. Our efforts are centered on small, ideally light-adressable tags to introduce synthetic probes covalently or reversibly. Another focus is the design of model in vitro systems to test membrane organization. This allows the precise control of membrane composition and thus to analyze membrane-associated processes in a more systematical way.


Dr. Ralph Wieneke
Institute of Biochemistry,
Biocenter N220/1.04
Goethe-University Frankfurt
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
D-60438 Frankfurt/M., Germany
Phone: +49-(0)-69 - 798 29477