The department of Molecular Cell Biology is divided into three research groups.
Learn more about our research groups
The central theme in the section of Molecular Microbiology is the bacterial cell envelope. Bacteria play an important role for live on earth, for instance because of their pivotal role in biochemical cycles, in food digestion and as causative agents of infectious diseases.
The bacterial cell envelope is the structure that separates the bacteria from its environment and therefore plays a central role in the interaction of the bacterium with the outside world. Bacteria have to keep their cell envelopes intact and as impermeable as possible to avoid lethal damage to their membranes. However, they also have to transport nutrients and even entire proteins across this cell envelope and introduce new building blocks during cell growth. How do bacteria address these contrasting requirements?
In our section we use genetic, molecular and biochemical techniques to study the functioning of the cell envelope and cell envelope processes. Our results not only add to a better understanding of the bacteria, but can also be used for biotechnological and medical purposes.
Our research focuses on the dynamics of intra- and intermolecular interactions of proteins. It aims on the visualization of structural alterations in the course of enzymatic activity, transmembrane transport and regulation in vitro and in vivo.
The group is currently organised in two teams with their own research topics:
Bio energetic pathways are of key importance for pathogenic bacteria, both in vitro and during infection in the host. A group headed by Dr. D. Bald has significantly contributed to the view that energy metabolism in Mycobacterium tuberculosis can be exploited as effective target pathway for new antibiotics.
Research in this group aims at both the fundamental understanding of bioenergetics in these pathogenes and at discovery and characterisation of new drugs and their targets.
A group headed by Dr. Y. Bollen examines several aspects of protein transport processes, mainly by time lapsed fluorescent microscopy. An example is Twin Arginine Transport (Tat): this system has the unique capability to transport folded or even multimeric proteins across biological membranes.
The final goal is to understand the working of this unique system and to exploit it as a potential target for new antibiotics.
Systems Biology Lab
The Systems Bioinformatics group was founded in August 2008 and focuses on systems biology with a special focus on integrative bioinformatics. It aims at forming bridges between the classical bottom-up approaches in systems biology and the more data-driven approaches in classical bioinformatics. We combine experimental, modeling and theoretical approaches to study cellular physiology, with an emphasis on metabolic networks.