The research in our group focuses on the structural biochemistry and biophysics of membrane proteins. Membrane proteins perform most of the important processes in all living cells. For example, respiration, photosynthesis, cell communication, cell import/export, cell growth and recognition are catalyzed and regulated by membrane proteins. These proteins do not act in an isolated way; they rather perform communication within the cell by binding and releasing of cofactors and soluble signal-transducing proteins. Membraneproteins are also key player in infectious diseases as they mediate entry of viral and bacterial pathogens into the host cell and also play an important role in the cell defense against the pathogens.
The main step for the elucidation of the complex in whole living cells is the understanding of the structure, dynamics and function of the membrane proteins that play the key role in these processes. Our research field is of a very interdisciplinary nature and includes biochemical investigations, molecular biology, spectroscopy, crystallization, X-ray structure analysis, as well as theoretical investigations. Petra Fromme’s group is part of a large international collaboration who are pioneers the new field of serial femtosecond nanocrystallography using Free electron lasers, where structure determination is based on femtosecond X-ray diffraction from a stream of nanocrystals, which will allow the determination of molecular movies of biomolecules at work in the future.