Structure and Function of Proteins
Our scientists are studying proteins from microbial pathogens in an effort to understand their role and the details of how they work. These pathogens specifically undermine processes within the host cell, inhibit cellular mechanisms, and reprogram cellular function in order to trick or weaken the host's immune system. In this way, they manage to enter the host cell, survive within a certain niche, or spread throughout the host's body.
The most important model system our scientists use is the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The infamous "hospital bug", is the main trigger behind a number of common infections in the everyday hospital setting and the culprit behind the shortened life expectancy of patients with cystic fibrosis. Phenazines are integral to P. aeruginosa’s pathogenicity. These nitrogenous aromatic compounds are produced by a number of bacterial microorganisms and large quantities are released into the environment of the bacterium. Due to their redox activity, phenazines are able to reduce oxygen to reactive oxygen species, which are toxic to many organisms. It has been shown that pyocyanine – the phenazine in P. aeruginosa – is central to the bacterium’s survival, making phenazine metabolism an attractive potential target for new drugs. Our scientists are studying phenazine's effects, its regulatory and control mechanisms on a molecular level.
If the researchers understand the structure of the proteins involved in these processes, they are able to make inferences as to their job – and look for molecules that confirm this interface, thereby interfering with bacterial function itself or with their molecular interactions with the host.
Bachelor & Master
Are you interested in a bachelor or master thesis? We are looking forward to your request!