Functional and enzymological characterization of regulators and executors of apoptosis
Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is a central process in metazoans to remove damaged or useless cells. K.-U.. Fröhlich has discovered that the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae performs an apoptotic cell death. As in mammals, yeast apoptosis is triggered by reactive oxygen species and by other forms of stress. He uses the simple yeast to evaluate the basic processes of apoptosis, and to clarify the role of apoptosis in cellular aging.
By screening yeast disruptants and in comparative gene expression studies, several novel regulatory components of cell death have been identified. The pathway of methionine biosynthesis appears to have a distinct proapoptotic and age-accelerating affect on the cell. Mutations in the protein complexes targeting cargo to the lysosome/yeast vacuole selectively increase the sensitivity to certain proapoptotic stimuli. Both phenomena are conserved between yeast and metazoans. The mechanisms underlying these effects are unknown and may be of fundamental importance for cellular aging and cell death regulation.
Laboratory know-how and infrastructureThe laboratory’s main focus is on cellular biology and molecular biology, including assays for cell death, cellular aging and stress phenomena. There is a long-standing expertise in enzyme purification and analysis, and in the optimization of activity assays.
All equipment for fermentation, genetic and molecular genetic experiments, microscopy, and basic equipment for purification and analysis of proteins is available in the laboratory. The IMB provides equipment and know how for sophisticated techniques of enzyme purification and confocal laser microscopy.