Prof. Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Steinhoff, Universität Osnabrück
The consortium combines a large set of biochemical and biophysical methods to elucidate the molecular details of transport and signaling processes across membranes. This entails the determination of the chronological order of key events during a transfer cycle, their timescales and their structural basis. In particular, the presumed ability of transporters and receptors to adopt multiple conformations, which are required for completion of a full activity cycle, requires the identification of these essential conformational states and an understanding of how interchange between them occurs.
Our long-term goal is to determine whether generally valid principles, such as e.g. alternating access, holds true for all transporters or whether transport activity is based on evolutionarily diverse mechanisms. Another intriguing question is how the similar molecular architecture of 7 TM proteins is used for pumps, channels and receptors. A number of well-selected proteins and a large set of advanced methodologies to characterize the spatiotemporal arrangement of these systems are required.