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Research topics of Voos group

Mitochondria are crucial and essential components of an eukaryotic cell. They generate the major part of cellular ATP, are involved in many biosynthetic reactions but also contribute to important signaling processes like apoptosis. Maintenance of protein amount and activity ("protein homoeostasis") in mitochondria under normal and pathological conditions is a crucial process for the survival of the whole cell. Problems in mitochondrial functions have been implicated in important human diseases ranging from aging, neurodegenerative diseases to cancer and arteriosclerosis.

Research in my group at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of Bonn is centered on the determination of the molecular mechanisms mitochondrial protein homoeostasis. We are mainly interested in the characterization of the mitochondrial quality control system, consisting of a cooperative network of chaperone and protease proteins that is responsible for successful protein homoeostasis. The activities of mitochondrial chaperones of the Hsp70- and Hsp100-class are indispensible for the function of this important quality-control system. Surplus or damaged proteins are removed by ATP-dependent proteases that work in the mitochondrial matrix and in the inner membrane to prevent the accumulation of protein aggregates.

We employ a wide variety of modern experimental techniques with an emphasis on biochemistry and molecular biology based on the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae and in human cell culture systems. The current work is funded by grants of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Specifically developed assays covering mitochondrial degradation and aggregation reactions are employed to define a comprehensive picture of the mitochondrial protein quality control system. We apply proteomic techniques to characterize the substrate-flow through the mitochondrial proteolysis system in a quantitative and qualitative manner. The collected data will provide the basis for the analysis of mitochondrial defects crucially involved in human diseases.

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