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CMCB Light Microscopy Facility of TU Dresden succeeds within the DFG Initiative for Large Research Infrastructure 2018


The Light Microscopy Facility (LMF) of the CMCB Technology Platform at Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) succeeded with its application for a "New Generation Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope for Multimodal Deep Tissue and Functional Imaging" within the DFG call for large research infrastructure 2018. The DFG call for new experimental research microscopes was well perceived and 50 applications were submitted. Finally 13 projects will be funded (see DFG press release).

Dr. Hella Hartmann, head of the LMF was in charge of the successful TU Dresden proposal. "Many research groups on the campus are interested in the new technology that the microscope system will supply and supported the application by outstanding scientific contributions. Research groups from the CRTD, the BIOTEC, the B CUBE, the Faculties of Biology and Medicine at TU Dresden, as well as from the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden contributed research projects and enabled the success of the application", says Hella.

The new instrument - a Leica SP8 DIVE FALCON LIGHTNING system with photomanipulation - will be run within the CMCB Technology Platform and as such be available for all researchers on the campus and beyond. The most innovative technology that it will supply clearly is the fast fluorescence lifetime measurement after single or two photon excitation that can be applied for the measurement of intracellular metabolites and the determination of variety of biophysical parameters within live cells. Installation of the instrument is planned for summer 2019.

DFG press release

Dr. Hella Hartmann, head of the Light Microscopy Facility (LMF) of the CMCB Technology Platform at TU Dresden © CMCB

Dr. Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich receives DFG funding for new research project


Dr. Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich, research group leader at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of the TU Dresden, will investigate the influence of stress on the mechanical properties of cells with DFG funding of approx. 250,000 euros. The focus is on the actin cytoskeleton of animal cells, which influences its mechanical properties through active mechanical stress in the manner of internal myosin motors. The understanding of these nonlinear material properties is an important prerequisite for the understanding of cellular force response, cell shape dynamics and tissue organization. However, existing studies produce an incoherent picture and both stiffening and softening of the actin cytoskeleton have been observed in the increase of mechanical stress.

In order to obtain answers, Dr. Fischer-Friedrich will choose a new method that focuses on the force-sensing of actin crosslinker molecule bonds in the actin cytoskeleton. So far, measurements of the force dependence of actin cross-linking compounds have been performed in vitro. In this new research project, the force dependence of crosslinking compounds in the actin cortex of tensile cells will be characterized. A new technique for the measurement of active cortical stress and cortical stiffness, developed by Dr. Fischer-Friedrich among others, will be used. The cells are compressed between two parallel surfaces and made visible using an atomic force microscope. This experimental approach will be used to determine the lifetime of crosslinking compounds under varying degrees of active mechanical stress in the actin cytoskeleton.

Fischer-Friedrich Lab

Dr. Elisabeth Fischer-Friedrich © BIOTEC

Student project Find‘n‘Bind was successful at this year’s BIOMOD


Find'n'Bind is a project and a team consisting of students of nanobiophysics, molecular bioengineering and physics at the TU Dresden. With their novel design of a two-component drug delivery system involving drug-carrying liposomes and a peptide-based release mechanism, the team successfully participated in this year's BIOMOD, a student competition for biomolecular design. Besides performing cutting edge experimental research, the team designed a website wiki about their research project, created a YouTube video and finally presented everything on the Jamboree in the USA at the University of California, San Francisco. The event took place on October 27-28 and the team received a silver project award and took second place in the YouTube video contest.

BIOMOD not only served as a platform for learning new skills such as video and website design in a team, but also helped the students expand their network with people from around the world.

The Find'n'Bind team was supported by multiple professors and research group leaders from DRESDEN-concept who provided valuable suggestions and input, but their most important mentors were Hans-Georg Braun (Institute for Polymer Research Dresden), Stefan Diez, James Saenz and Yixin Zhang (all B CUBE, TU Dresden). The team received financial support from the Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering at TU Dresden, AbbVie, Eppendorf and the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the TU Dresden e. V.

Team members
Teodora Andrejic, Oleksandr Berezin, Vadim Bogatyr, Shanil Gandhi, Krishna Gupta, Monique Honsa, Milica Milic, Sourabh Monnappa, Mrudula Parab, Hifsa Pervez, Vinidhra Shankar, Teresa Tschirner, and Colette Worcester.

Watch the winner video here.

The Find'n'Bind team at the biotechnology campus in Dresden Johannstadt

Participants at the BIOMOD 2018 at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the US

Novel method to map enzyme-substrate relationships


The group around Dr. Jörg Mansfeld at the Biotechnological Centre (BIOTEC) as part of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering (CMCB) of the TU Dresden has developed a new technique called E2~dID, which makes it possible to identify proteins which are labelled with ubiquitin molecules. The attachment of ubiquitin molecules to substrate proteins, also called ubiquitination, alters the properties of the substrate and is essential for a multitude of cellular functions. Aberrations ubiquitination are closely associated with a wide variety of diseases including neurodegeneration and cancer. In order to be able to elucidate malfunctions in the ubiquitin system, connecting the ubiquitin enzymes to their specific substrate proteins is of utmost importance. Such enzyme-substrate relationships can be clarified using the E2~dID method, which can be applied to human cells and model organisms. Thereby, the technology has not only the potential to provide new insights into basic cell biological processes, but can also suggest new targets for therapeutic approaches targeting the ubiquitin system, adds Dr. Gábor Bakos, the first author of the study published in Nature Communications.

Publication: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07251-5

Mansfeld Lab

First author Dr. Gábor Bakos © Magdalena Gonciarz

E2~dID assay with or without the APC/C (ANAPC4). protein-bioUBB are substrates of the APC/C that are ubiquitinated during E2~dID to be identified by mass spectrometry.

BIOTEC welcomes Professor Simon Alberti


Since November 2018, Prof. Simon Alberti has been head of the Chair of Cellular Biochemistry at BIOTEC. He and his research group want to explain the molecular principles of cytoplasm organisation. During stress, cells undergo controlled changes that affect their physiology and metabolism. The main focus of the research is on the structural changes of the cytoplasm during environmental influences and stress.

In their latest work, they show that stressed cells form membraneless compartments in the cytoplasm via a biophysical process known as phase separation. However, the initially advantageous ability to form membraneless compartments becomes detrimental with increasing age. The aging compartments show increasingly aberrant behaviour and are therefore closely linked to the pathogenesis of age-related diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recent laboratory work has focused on understanding the molecular relationships between subcellular organisation, membraneless compartments and age-related diseases. This ground-breaking research is currently funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant, an HFSP Program Grant and the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung).

From 2010 to 2018, Simon Alberti was already a research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, investigating macromolecules and spatial and temporal aspects of cytoplasmic structure. However, an affiliation to the TU Dresden, in particular to BIOTEC, had already existed since 2016 in the form of an honorary professorship and he actively participated in teaching in the international Master's programme "Molecular Bioengineering". Now Simon Alberti is looking forward to "working with my colleagues from BIOTEC and CMCB to tackle important problems in biology".

Professor Simon Alberti © MPI-CBG

The CMCB welcomes 73 new students


The Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering (CMCB) is happy to welcome 73 new students for this winter semester at the Institutes Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) and Center for Molecular Bioengineering (B CUBE) of TU Dresden. A total of 450 applications were received for the three Master's programmes Molecular Bioengineering (MolBio), Nanobiophysics (NBP) and Regenerative Biology and Medicine (RegBioMed). This year, we welcome students from Germany, South Korea, Russia, India, Nicaragua, China, Italy, USA and Mexico, just to name a few. Five of the new students are Erasmus Mundus Master Nanoscience and Nanotechnology students who have completed their first year of their master studies at KU Leuven/Belgium and are with us for the second year, receiving a double degree at the end.

On Oct. 1, the new students met for a "Welcome Meeting", where the Student Council (FSR CMCB) also introduced itself. Afterwards, they took part in the Beer Hour at the CRTD and a tour through the Neustadt.

© Sandra Mattick

DFG priority programme funds innovative eye research in Dresden


Within the Priority Programme 2127 "Gene and Cell-based Therapies to Counteract Neuroretinal Degeneration" the German Research Foundation (DFG) provides funding of more than one million Euros for three years to four research groups at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) and the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC), both part of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering (CMCB) of the TU Dresden, as well as at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Dresden.

The SPP2127 brings together 29 experts in vision research and clinical ophthalmology to develop gene- and cell-based therapies for the treatment of currently incurable blinding diseases in a German-wide network. The funded projects will further strengthen this research direction within the Dresden life science network including pioneering approaches in regenerative therapies utilizing human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC), genome engineering and label-free sorting technologies.

Find here the complete press release

The four research group leaders Dr. Volker Busskamp, Dr. Mike O. Karl, Prof. Dr. Marius Ader und Prof. Dr. Jochen Guck (from left to right) © Friederike Braun

Standardized microgel beads as elastic cell mechanical probes


To evaluate a patient's state of health, the first blood test is usually based on the analysis of simple parameters such as cell count, shape and size. Another physical parameter that can be used to monitor physiological and pathological changes in cells is the cell's elasticity. This makes it possible to quantify the cell's ability to deform (strain) under a certain force (stress). Following these findings, a lot of different techniques have been developed to analyse cell elasticity. These technologies are able to collect data about stress and strain and to extrapolate cell elasticity, using specific mathematical model. A big problem is that the same type of cell analysed with different techniques gives completely different results. Different results give rise to questions such as: Is the instrument working properly? Are the model assumptions used to analyse the valid data? Are these differences due to some intrinsic properties of the sample? To remove this ambiguity, a standard sample is required. This can then be used to calibrate and validate the measurement.

In a joint project of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering (CMCB) Microstructure Facility (MSF) and Prof. Guck's research group, microgel beads have now been presented as a mechanical standard for the first time. The beads are fully characterized and show that they can provide the same results when analysed with completely different mechanical measurement methods. This standard sample was called "cell-like elastic microgel beads" because the beads have a size and elasticity comparable to eukaryotic cells, have a pure elastic behaviour and consist of hydrogel (polyacrylamide). The project group has also developed a method to enable the beads to interact with other cells. These beads can therefore be used as cell-scale sensors in cell clusters, either in vitro or in vivo (more details).

This opens up new perspectives for the analysis of stresses associated with the evolution of biological systems such as organoids, spheroids or organisms. The beads can be used in a variety of applications in biophysics, biology, biomedicine and tissue engineering, and the CMCB Microstructure Facility is open to new scientific collaborations.

CMCB Microstructure Facility
Guck Lab

Bead production (Top), beads functionalized with proteins (Bottom-Left), beads in zebrafish embryo (Bottom-Right)
© Salvatore Girardo, Nicole Träber, and Jochen Guck

Dr. Salvatore Girardo – Facility Leader of the CMCB Microstructure Facility
© Salvatore Girardo


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