CellNetworks Research Videos


Heidelberg University: At the Institute of Pharmacology, CellNetworks member Prof. Jan Siemens and his research group explore sensory mechanisms at the molecular level. In their paper, published in Cell in 2015, they discovered a molecular mechanism in nerve cells which reverts the sensitized state of the capsaicin receptor TRPV1. With the activation of GABAB1, the receptor forms a complex with TRPV1 to counteract inflammatory pain. Harnessing this mechanism for anti-pain therapy may prevent adverse effects associated with currently available TRPV1 blockers.


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Malaria is transmitted during the blood meal of the Anopheles mosquito, when Plasmodium sporozoites are injected into the skin. In various research projects at the Department for Infectious Diseases at the Heidelberg University Clinic, Prof. Friedrich Frischknecht and his team are studying the motility of the parasites in order to get a better understanding of the malaria disease. Basic research, says Frischknecht, is driven by a general fascination for science; it opens up unexpected paths that may lead to surprising new discoveries. This principle of serendipity has also led Frischknecht and his team to discover a strange collective movement of the parasites.


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Inside cells, communication between the nucleus, which harbors our precious genetic material, and the cytoplasm is mediated by the constant exchange of thousands of signaling molecules and proteins. Until recently, it was unknown how this protein traffic can be so fast and yet precise enough to prevent the passage of unwanted molecules. Through a combination of computer simulations and various experimental techniques, researchers from the EMBL and the Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies (HITS) have solved this puzzle: A very flexible and disordered protein can bind to its receptor within billionths of a second. Their research, led by Edward Lemke (EMBL), Frauke Gräter (HITS), was published in “Cell”.


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An ERC research project led by Prof. Michael Boutros (DKFZ and Heidelberg University) analyzes genetic interactions in living cells with high-throughput technology such as robotics and automatic microscopy. With RNA interference, the scientists silence hundreds of thousands of single an pairwise genes to find out how the genetic network is constructed.


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One of the reasons we are still facing many unanswered questions about HIV is the tiny structure of the virus. Studying dynamic events during its replication is very tricky. HIV is invisible in conventional light microscopes, electron microscopy only provides us with snapshots of the virus, not with dynamic information. Taking advantage of the latest developments in microscopy, CellNetworks member Prof. Dr. Barbara Müller and her research group from the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Heidelberg University Hospital develop various fluorescent labeling strategies for different parts of the virus. Together with novel super-resolution and multi-color live cell imaging techniques, they open the door to fundamental insights into crucial steps the virus undergoes during its replication.


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