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.


ERC Starting Grant for Peter ‘t Hart
Max Planck Researcher from Dortmund receives €1.5 million to develop innovative molecular glues with therapeutic potential

A pocket full of water molecules – how actin filaments drive the cell’s motion
Max Planck researchers from Dortmund reveal the tiniest details of actin filaments

Zhexin “Eric” Wang receives the International Birnstiel Award 2022
Max Planck PhD Student from Dortmund is one of six brilliant young scientists awarded

Research at the Institute

 A synergistic Rh(I)/organoboron-catalysed site-selective carbohydrate functionalization that involves multiple stereocontrol
A cryogenic, coincident fluorescence, electron and ion beam microscope
Structural basis of actin filament assembly and aging
Structural basis for specific inhibition of the deubiquitinase UCHL1
CRISPR screens in Drosophila cells identify Vsg as a Tc toxin receptor
Conformational transitions of the Spindly adaptor underlie its interaction with Dynein and Dynactin
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
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
A self-organized synthetic morphogenic liposome responds with shape changes to local light cues
CDC20 assists its catalytic incorporation in the mitotic checkpoint complex
Key Publications 2020
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