Structural biology of autophagy

Cells continuously synthesize proteins, reconstruct their organelles and cellular components, renew them and take up substances from outside. A cellular mechanism that counteracts and controls this on-going growth of organic matter is autophagy. This particular mechanism degrades everything that is no longer needed – and this includes pathogens as well. In this regard autophagy plays a central role in our immune response and the defence against infectious diseases. Here you can find out how our scientists are researching autophagy in order to fight against pathogens and infectious diseases.

Dr Andrea Scrima

Once we are able to understand the structure of central elements within autophagy and the camouflage-mechanisms of pathogens, we can identify new antibacterial substances that can inhibit this “camouflage"."

Dr. Andrea Scrima, Leiter der Nachwuchsgruppe Molekulare Strukturbiologie der Autophagie

Andrea Scrima studied in Bochum and focused early on during his diploma thesis on structural biology. During his doctoral research at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund he worked on the structural and biochemical characterization of two proteins that are involved in transfer RNA modification. He subsequently moved to the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, where he investigated protein structures connected with detection and repair of DNA lesions from 2007 to 2011.  He then joined the Helmholtz-Center for Infection Research as a Young Investigators Group Leader in the department Molecular Structural Biology currently researching the mechanism of autophagy in the context of infectious diseases.