Welcome to the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics!

The Max Planck Institute of Biophysics focuses on investigating the structure and function of proteins that are embedded in cellular membranes. Membrane proteins functioning as channels, transporters, or molecular sensors mediate the exchange of matter and information of cells with their environment.

New discovery of researchers from the MPI of Biophysics in Science magazine: nuclear pore complexes are mechanosensitive

Channels within the nuclear membrane of eukaryotic cells, the so-called nuclear pore complexes, enable the exchange of material between nucleus and cystosol. A group of scientists led by Martin Beck has, in collaboration with the groups of Gerhard Hummer (MPIBP), Julia Mahamid (EMBL) and Jan Kosinski (EMBL), published new insights into the dynamics of the 3D structure of such channels in the scientific journal Science. By showing that membrane tension influences the diameter of the nuclear pore complexes, they identified an unexpected way of regulating the transport in and out of the nucleus under different physiological conditions such as cellular stress. (Visuals: Antoni Kosinski)

Werner Kühlbrandt receives the Cothenius Medal for his lifetime achievement

With this award, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina honours Werner Kühlbrandt, Director of the Department of Structural Biology, for his outstanding scientific lifetime achievement.

Murphy group’s work published in Science magazine: How methanogenic microbes manage electrons

This month, the renowned Science magazine published new results from Olivia Pfeil-Gardiner and Bonnie Murphy (Max Planck Insitut of Biophysics) in collaboration with researchers from the Max Planck Insitute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg. New structures solved by the group shed light on direct and conformationally-controlled electron transfer for CO2 fixation in methanogens.

Coming February 2022: New research group of Melanie McDowell

We are proud to announce that Melanie McDowell has been awarded a Max Planck Research Group Leader Position to start at our institute in February 2022. She aims to structurally characterise membrane protein biogenesis pathways at the endoplasmic reticulum. There will be open Postdoc, PhD and Technician positions. Click here for more information.


New “International Max Planck Research School on Cellular Biophysics” at our Institute

We host, together with Goethe University Frankfurt, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, a new International Max Planck Research School. From now on, PhD students will join our school annually to pursue the school’s mission: to understand how complex subcellular architecture is created from individual molecular functions that act in concert. Click for further information.
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Research Groups
Publications in 2020
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Our Research 

How the large macromolecular protein complexes of a nuclear cell pore work together

How proteins are involved in the anaerobic degradation of biomass
What are the universal principles that underlie chromosome organization across all forms of life?

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Latest Publications

Journal Article
Martin Centola, Katharina van Pee, Heidi Betz, and Özkan Yildiz, "Crystal structures of phosphatidyl serine synthase PSS reveal the catalytic mechanism of CDP-DAG alcohol O-phosphatidyl transferases," Nature Communications 12 (1), 6982 (2021).
Journal Article
Felix Kolbe, Schara Safarian, Żaneta Piórek, Sonja Welsch, Hanne Müller, and Hartmut Michel, "Cryo-EM structures of intermediates suggest an alternative catalytic reaction cycle for cytochrome c oxidase," Nature Communications 12, 6903 (2021).

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