Welcome to the MPI of Molecular Physiology

Every day the trillions of cells in our bodies ensure that we are able to see, think, speak and move. How does each cell ‘know’ what to do? How can an organism arise from millions of nanometer-sized molecules although there is no blueprint? What actually is ‘life’? For centuries, philosophers and natural scientists have been trying to solve this mystery. Many questions remain unresolved to this day.

We want to know how the building blocks of the cells organize themselves and ensure that certain chemical reactions occur at the right time in the right place – or how errors lead to the development of diseases like cancer. To achieve this, we are studying the relevant processes on multiple levels – from single molecules and larger protein complexes to whole cells.


Mechanism of bacterial toxins in deadly attacks
Cryo-EM and protein NMR 3D snapshots reveal sophisticated mechanism of action of a bacterial Tc toxin

Andrea Musacchio appointed new Vallee Visiting Professor
Internationally recognized leaders in the biomedical sciences honored by Vallee Foundation

Award for the best biology high school graduates in NRW
Karl von Frisch Award ceremony for best biology high school graduates at the MPI Dortmund

Research at the Institute

Identification of a Novel Pseudo-Natural Product Type IV IDO1 Inhibitor Chemotype
Rep15 interacts with several Rab GTPases and has a distinct fold for a Rab effector
Mechanism of threonine ADP-ribosylation of F-actin by a Tc toxin
Structure of the human inner kinetochore CCAN complex and its significance for human centromere organization
Structure of the RZZ complex and molecular basis of Spindly-driven corona assembly at human kinetochores
Structures from intact myofibrils reveal mechanism of thin filament regulation through nebulin
On the role of phase separation in the biogenesis of membraneless compartments
Structure of the Mon1-Ccz1 complex reveals molecular basis of membrane binding for Rab7 activation
Synthesis of 20-Membered Macrocyclic Pseudo-Natural Products Yields Inducers of LC3 Lipidation
Key Publications 2021
Synthesis of 20-Membered Macrocyclic Pseudo-Natural Products Yields Inducers of LC3 Lipidation
Targeted substrate loop insertion by VCP/p97 during PP1 complex disassembly
Small molecule modulation of the Drosophila Slo channel elucidated by cryo-EM
Molecular architecture of black widow spider neurotoxins
High-resolution structures of the actomyosin-V complex in three nucleotide states provide insights into the force generation mechanism.
 Mechanism of actin-dependent activation of nucleotidyl cyclase toxins from bacterial human pathogens
Exploiting non-covalent interactions in selective carbohydrate synthesis
A barbed end interference mechanism reveals how capping protein promotes nucleation in branched actin networks
Combination of pseudo-natural product design and formal natural product ring distortion yields stereochemically and biologically diverse pseudo-sesquiterpenoid alkaloids
Dynamic Catalytic Highly Enantioselective 1,3-Dipolar Cycloadditions
Assembly principles and stoichiometry of a complete human kinetochore module
Growth factor–dependent ErbB vesicular dynamics couple receptor signaling to spatially and functionally distinct Erk pools
Natural product fragment combination to performance-diverse pseudo-natural products
The molecular basis for sarcomere organization in vertebrate skeletal muscle
A self-organized synthetic morphogenic liposome responds with shape changes to local light cues
Cell-Based Identification of New IDO1 Modulator Chemotypes
Cryo-EM resolves molecular recognition of an optojasp photoswitch bound to actin filaments in both switch states
Overlap of NatA and IAP substrates implicates N-terminal acetylation in protein stabilization
CDC20 assists its catalytic incorporation in the mitotic checkpoint complex
Key Publications 2020
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