Delving into the body’s protein machinery
Sebastian Deindl seeks solutions to fundamental biological problems by studying the body’s enzymes using different technologies such as microscopes and lasers. “Many of these enzymes are involved in the development of cancer and developmental diseases”, he says.
Sebastian Deindl, researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, received a starting grant from European Research Counsil (ERC) in 2016. The grant will cover several track combinations from his research on so-called chromatine-associated proteins. These proteins carry the cell's genetic information, which they also regulate and modify. At the same time, constant fluctuations occur in the structures and behaviors of the proteins themselves.
“The goal is to acquire more information on what these enzymes look like by studying their structures. In addition, we want to understand how these structures fluctuate and evolve while the enzymes do their job.”
Success with fluorescent light
Enzymes are the name of the proteins that catalyze, in other words increase or decrease the speed of chemical reactions. To be able to study these enzymes, the researchers in the Deindl Lab use a combination of different techniques. One of them is to label purified enzymes with small fluorescent molecules and visualize them using a self-assembled microscope and laser light. According to Sebastian Deindl, the structural dynamics of individual molecules can be monitored by recording and analyzing their fluorescence emission. The goal is to find solutions to fundamental biological problems.
“Many of these enzymes are involved in the development of cancer and developmental diseases. If the activity of these enzymes is not regulated at the right time and at the right location, then severe disease states are often the consequence. So understanding how the enzymes work when they are functioning properly is a prerequisite in order to one day be able to know how to intervene if things go wrong, as in the case of cancer.”
Research across the disciplines
For Sebastian Deindl, multidisciplinary research is extremely attractive. To his new team, he is looking for employees with different expertise and research background.
“Even if we work with biological questions, we also use tools that more belong in the fields of physics or biophysics. So researchers with a strong interest in optics, physics, technology, programming and computer science, in addition to of course biology and biochemistry, will all make a valuable contribution to our project. It is a project that really requires a whole range of interests and expertise.”
Grants from European Research Counsil
ERC:s Starting Grants are awarded to younger, promising researchers who will be funded EUR 1.5 million each for five years. Sebastian Deindl received his grant for the project ChromatinRemodelling Single-Molecule And Structural Studies Of ATP-Dependent Chromatin Remodelling.