Page 1


4 1 20 S


A joint venture of


„In science, truth always wins.“


To honor an extraordinary teacher and scientist, the Max F. Perutz Laboratories were named after Max Ferdinand Perutz, who, together with John C. Kendrew, was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies on the structure of globular proteins. Max Perutz was born in 1914 in Vienna to a family of textile manufacturers who made their fortune during the industrial revolution in the 19th century, through the introduction of mechanical spinning and weaving. He attended the Theresianum, where a perceptive teacher awakened his interest in chemistry. In 1932 he entered the University of Vienna, but because of the poor prospects for a scientific career in Austria in 1936 he decided to move to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. After Hitler´s invasion

of Austria, the family business was expropriated, his parents became refugees and his natural choice was to continue his career in Cambridge. Perutz and his co-workers managed to solve the structure of hemoglobin in 1959. The work was published in Nature in February 1960, and Perutz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1962 together with John Kendrew, who had solved the structure of myoglobin. In addition to his studies, Perutz pioneered the new research field of Molecular Biology and was instrumental in founding the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK. He was also involved in establishing the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in Heidelberg, Germany. Max F. Perutz died in February 2002 in Cambridge.


istory of the Max F. Perutz Laboratories

The Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) are a research and training center of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna in the field of Molecular Biology at the Vienna Biocenter.

MFPL group leaders have won many prestigious research awards: 5 START Awards

6 ERC-Starting Grants

Symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Max F. Perutz

Foundation of the VBC wide scientific core facility CSF with a broad range of new technologies

14 group leaders have joined the MFPL

Foundation of the Max F. Perutz Laboratories GmbH




3 Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Grants

more than 148 successfully completed PhD degrees







2014 2015 2016 as of December 2014

2014 at a glance

Content Message from the Rectors


MFPL Symposium 2014

Directorate Report


Research Initiatives & Networks 24


MFPL in Numbers


Scientific Facilities


Awards & Honors


Education & Training


Research Groups


Scientific Exchange


New Research Groups


MFPL Life 36

Research Highlights 2014






essage from the Rectors 2014

After nine years, the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), a thriving collaboration of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, have firmly established themselves as a top institution for research and education in the field of Molecular Biology. Since their foundation in 2005, the MFPL have developed and grown into a successful and internationally competitive player in Molecular Biology research. To ensure continuity, the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna renewed their cooperation agreement in September 2014 for another six years. In the future, greater emphasis will be placed on promoting basic research in medically relevant research areas. We believe strongly that this will increase the competitiveness and status of the MFPL as an important contributor to the Vienna Biocenter, one of the largest research clusters in Austria. The MFPL symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Max F. Perutz, the Vienna-born Nobel Prize winner who gave his name to the Max F. Perutz Laboratories, was one of the highlights of the scientific calendar in 2014. More than twenty highly renowned scientists, amongst them colleagues and friends of Perutz, presented their latest findings in the fields of structural biology, cell signaling, bioinformatics, chromosome dynamics and RNA biology. The symposium was not only a great overall success and a terrific occasion for scientific exchange, but it also highlighted the status of Vienna as a Life Sciences Hub in Europe. We would also like to welcome two new young group leaders who will surely make great contributions to the MFPL: Matthias Schäfer who returned to Vienna from Heidelberg and strives to understand the details of RNA modifications, and Angela Hancock who works on the molecular basis of adaptive evolution. Angela is also to be congratulated on the award of a Starting Grant from the European Research Council, which will provide 1,6 million euros over five years. This is the sixth Starting Grant for the MFPL since 2010 – showcasing the continuing Europe-wide competitiveness of its researchers. Further congratulations go to Karl Kuchler who was awarded 1,4 million euros as part of the FUNGITECT project, a EU-wide research collaboration aiming to

Heinz W. Engl Rector, University of Vienna

develop, validate and market a specific set of novel molecular diagnostic tests for invasive fungal disease. We also congratulate Dea Slade and Josef Gotzmann whose joint imaging project with Kareem Elsayad from the Campus Science Support Facilities to visualize chromatin remodeling at DNA damage sites has been granted more than 500,000 euros by the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF). We also wish to extend our congratulations to Claudine Kraft and Kristin Tessmar-Raible for their selection as EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) Young Investigators, making them the second and third within a year, following in the footsteps of Sascha Martens. During their three-year tenure in this program, Young Investigators not only receive financial benefits, but also profit from a vibrant and broad network of more than 340 scientists of current and former members. The program is a great chance for our young group leaders to raise their international profile. We are also delighted to see continuing evidence of MFPL’s fruitful education and training efforts, apparent in the number of awards for MFPL’s young researchers. Our sincere congratulations go to Astrid Hagelkrüys for the Ring of Honor “Sub Auspiciis Praesidentis rei publicae” – the highest possible distinction for study achievements in Austria. Furthermore, we would like to congratulate Nela Nikolic on her Lise-Meitner Fellowship, as well as Justyna Sawa-Makarska on her Hertha-Firnberg Fellowship, both by the Austrian Science Fund, Freia von Raußendorf and Christine Abert on their DOC Fellowships by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Stefan Benke on his uni:docs Fellowship by the University of Vienna. 2015 will mark the ten-year anniversary of the MFPL, and we as the Rectors of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna look back with pride on the great achievements the MFPL have made during this time, and look forward to a prosperous future.

Wolfgang Schütz Rector, Medical University of Vienna




irectorate Report 2014

In 2005, the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna decided to create the Max F. Perutz Laboratories as a joint initiative with the intention to develop a successful and internationally visible institute for research and education in the field of Molecular Biology. Building on the existing strengths of more than 50 research groups, the MFPL quickly received national and international recognition as a key player in Molecular Biology research. Now, nine years later, our two partner universities have made sure that their successful collaboration – the MFPL – can continue to prosper by renewing their cooperation agreement. As part of this agreement, and based on our current research topics, we have created a new research area “Molecular Mechanisms of Disease” to increase our translational research efforts. In addition, anticipating the retirement of Graham Warren, a joint professorship for Molecular Biology has recently been advertised by our two parent universities. This will ensure continuity and provide impetus for the continuing success of the MFPL and the Vienna Biocenter (VBC) at the international level. MFPL symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” Max F. Perutz, the Nobel Prize winner after whom our institute is named, would have turned 100 on 19th May 2014. To commemorate this occasion, the MFPL organized the scientific symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences”, held in September at the University of Vienna. The title refers to Perutz’s work to solve the structure of hemoglobin for which he crossed the frontiers between physics and biology. With an opening soiree, more than 20 speakers over two days, including colleagues and friends of Perutz such as Michael Rossmann, Richard Henderson and Tom Steitz, and over 200 attendees, the symposium was


a memorable event. But it was also a great occasion for scientific exchange and for our PhD students and Postdocs to share and discuss their work with world-renowned and experienced scientists. We would like to thank the speakers, poster presenters, organizers and helpers that made the symposium such a success. Groups Hancock and Schäfer join the MFPL This year, the MFPL welcomed two new group leaders: Angela Hancock and Matthias Schäfer. Angela was a Postdoc in the lab of Joachim Hermisson (MFPL) and Magnus Nordborg (Gregor Mendel Institute Vienna) and was part of the Vienna International Postdoctoral Program (VIPS), before she set up her own group at the MFPL in July 2014. Her lab focuses on the molecular basis of adaptive evolution, and aims to clarify how species respond to environmental selection pressures. Matthias Schäfer returned to Vienna to join the MFPL in April 2014. In 2001, he finished his PhD in the lab of Jürgen Knoblich at the Institute of Molecular Pathology Vienna, before taking up a Postdoc at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and a second Postdoc at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. His group investigates the biological role of RNA cytosine methylation using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Work of MFPL researchers gains national and international recognition As in previous years, the scientific output and education efforts of MFPL’s researchers have been excellent. The numbers speak for themselves: more than 10,5 million euros of third-party funding, more than 140 scientific articles and 36 successfully completed PhDs. We would like to congratulate our scientists on these achievements. And their top-class work was also recognized externally, as shown by

From left: Roland Foisner (Vice-Dean for the Medical University of Vienna), Graham Warren (Scientific Director), Manuela Baccarini (Vice-Dean for the University of Vienna) and Fabien Martins (Administrative Director).

Universities renew cooperation agreement


national and international grants, as well as awards and honors they received during 2014. Angela Hancock was awarded an ERC Starting Grant, worth 1,6 million euros over five years. She is the sixth awardee from the MFPL within five years. This grant will fund the research of her team on the detailed mechanisms of adaptation to extreme environments in natural Arabidopsis populations from the Cape Verde Islands. Furthermore, the EU FP7-Health program has awarded more than 7,6 million euros to the FUNGITECT project, 1,4 million of which will go to Karl Kuchler. The FUNGITECT consortium aims to develop, validate and market a specific set of novel molecular diagnostic tests, enabling clinical diagnosis of invasive fungal diseases, which globally claim around 1,5 million lives each year. Karl Kuchler and his team will conduct the basic research part of the project, including the generation of novel monoclonal antibodies and diagnostic microchips based on fungal-specific antibodies. Additionally, a joint imaging project by Dea Slade and Josef Gotzmann from the MFPL, and Kareem Elsayad from the Campus Science Support Facilites has been awarded a grant from the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF) worth more than 500,000 euros. The three-year project will apply advanced optical microscopy techniques to visualize chromatin remodelling at DNA damage sites. MFPL now hosts three EMBO Young Investigators. We congratulate Claudine Kraft and Kristin Tessmar-Raible on selection to the program that supports young researchers at the critical early stage of their independent career. Kristin and Claudine follow Sascha Martens who was selected as an EMBO Young Investigator last year. The program offers financial support, lab management and non-scientific skills training, but most importantly its members form a large network for scientific exchange, comprising 340 people. 2014 was a particularly exciting year for former MFPL group leader Emmanuelle Charpentier. The discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 system that she and her team made, including former Masters and PhD students at the MFPL, has taken the scientific world by storm. We congratulate Emmanuelle on the Breakthrough Prize, endowed with 3 million US dollars, and the Dr. Paul Janssen Prize, worth 100,000 US dollars. The MFPL and its neighbor institutes at the Vienna Biocenter recognize the tremendous potential of this new technology and are investing in a project, headed by Krzysztof Chylinski – a coinventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology – to further establish its use at the Biocenter. Educating the next generation of scientists

more than 1,200 hours to train undergraduate students in lectures and practical courses. Currently, as part of the MFPL and Vienna Biocenter PhD programs, they also train 140 PhD students to become excellent and internationally competitive researchers, as well as assisting over 90 Postdocs. Their success is evident in the many accolades our young scientists have received for their achievements, an overview of which can be found in the “Awards & Honors” section. We would like to express our best wishes to Astrid Hagelkrüys from the Seiser lab, who was awarded the Ring of Honor “Sub Auspiciis Praesidentis rei publicae”. We also extend our congratulations to the second awardee, Melanie Hassler who completed her Master’s degree at the MFPL. President Heinz Fischer himself awarded this most prestigious prize for study achievements in Austria. Furthermore, we would like to congratulate Postdoc Nela Nikolic from the lab of Isabella Moll on a Lise-MeitnerFellowship awarded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF); Justyna Sawa-Makarska from the Martens lab on her FWF-funded Hertha-Firnberg-Fellowship; Freia von Raußendorf, joint PhD student of Thomas Leonard and Ivan Yudushkin, and Christine Abert, PhD student in the lab of Sascha Martens, on their DOC Fellowships by the Austrian Academy of Sciences; and Stefan Benke on his uni:docs Fellowship for his dissertation in the lab of Gijs Versteeg. The MFPL spirit At the MFPL we believe it is very important for our staff to meet and greet. Hence, the MFPL organize and support a range of social events where our people can get to know each other on a more personal level. These include an annual ski trip, sport events such as the Vienna City Run, the Cancer Research Run, the Dragonboat Race and the Biocenter Soccer Cup, as well as Happy Hours and theatre shows by the Biocenter Amateur Drama Club. We look forward to an exciting 2015, when we will welcome Martin Leeb and Christopher Campbell as Vienna Research Groups for Young Investigators. The 2014 call for this program, funded by the WWTF, was highly successful for the MFPL. Six of our nine supported candidates were invited for interviews by the WWTF, and two out of three funded positions went to the MFPL. We take this as a promising sign for the future. Graham Warren Fabien Martins Manuela Baccarini Roland Foisner

We are grateful that our researchers take pride in educating the next generation of scientists. Every year they invest




FPL in Numbers Founded in 2005, as a joint venture of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) provide an environment for excellent, internationally recognized research and education in Molecular and Cell Biology. Research at the MFPL is curiosity-driven and spans the field of Molecular and Cell Biology. Most groups investigate basic research questions, but an appreciable number are also active in more applied fields of biology. Research Areas • Biochemistry and Biophysics • Developmental Biology and Disease Mechanisms • Genetics, Epigenetics and Gene Regulation • Immunology and Pathogens • Molecular Cell Biology • Neuroscience • Nucleus & Chromosome Biology • Populations, Adaptations & Evolution • Structural & Computational Biology

Education MFPL has a strong focus on the education and training of young researchers. Members of the MFPL Faculty teach undergraduate courses in the Life Sciences and Medicine, supervise Diploma students and train PhD students and Postdocs taking their first steps in their scientific career. You can read more about opportunities for PhDs and Postdocs from page 30. Funding The Max F. Perutz Laboratories are jointly funded by the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. The two universities provide space, scientific infrastructure and cover the costs for administrative staff. Most of the scientific personnel (70%) and the running costs are covered by thirdparty funding raised by the MFPL group leaders. The total volume of third party funding in 2014 was over 10,5 million euros.

Funding EU (23%) Austrian Science Fund FWF (57%) Austrian Ministries (4%) Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG (3%) Vienna Science & Technology Fund WWTF (4%) Austrian Academy of Sciences OEAW (1%) Others (8%)



Scientific Advisory Board The Scientific Advisory Board SAB visits MFPL every year to monitor the scientific performance and discuss future developments with the Directorate and the Faculty.


We thank our SAB members: Barbara J. Meyer University of California Berkeley Melissa J. Moore University of Massachusetts Medical School Peter Parker Cancer Research UK London Research Institute Simon TavarĂŠ Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

Staff - Gender Distribution

416 Scientific Personnel (incl. Facilities) (87%) 62 Non-Scientific Personnel (13%)

Scientific Staff - Functions

219 Male (46%) 259 Female (54%)

Scientific Staff - Nationalities 63 Group Leaders (15%) 91 Postdocs (22%) 140 PhD students (34%) 72 Technical Assistants (17%) 50 Graduate students (12%)

210 Austria (51%) 165 Europe (excl. Austria) (40%) 12 North & South America (3%) 29 Asia & Australasia (7%)

all numbers as of November 2014

Publications (as of 10 December 2014) = 138




wards & Honors ERC Starting Grant

MFPL group leader Angela Hancock was awarded an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council, which provides up to 1,6 million euros over the next five years. The grant will fund research on the molecular basis of adaptive evolution. Angela Hancock is the sixth MFPL awardee of the highly competitive ERC Starting Grant, joining Kristin Tessmar-Raible, Alwin Köhler, Bojan Zagrovic, Sascha Martens, and Florian Raible. The continuing success of our researchers in national and international calls highlights the excellent level of research carried out at the MFPL. 7,6 million euros funding for the EU project FUNGITECT The EU FP7-Health program has awarded over 7,6 million euros to the FUNGITECT project. Its consortium exploits research from clinical, academic and small medium enterprises to develop, validate and market a specific set of novel molecular diagnostic tests enabling the clinical diagnosis of invasive fungal diseases (IFDs). IFDs are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in infectious diseases, each year claiming some 1,5 million lives all over the world. The partner Karl Kuchler has been awarded 1,4 million euros to conduct the basic research part within FUNGITECT, including the generation of novel monoclonal antibodies and diagnostic microchips based on fungal-specific antibodies. The group will also provide expertise ranging from basic validation of diagnostic assays to the establishment of Standard Operating Procedures. More than 500,000 euros for imaging project A joint imaging project to visualize chromatin remodeling at DNA damage sites by MFPL group leader Dea Slade (top), the MFPL BioOptics facility headed by Josef Gotzmann (bottom), and the CSF Advanced Microscopy section headed by Kareem Elsayad was granted more than 500,000 euros for the next three years by the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF). The specific aim of the project is to characterize the recruitment of multivalent histone readers to DNA damage sites induced by laser microirradiation. Deregulation of the involved processes are frequently found in different types of cancer.


EMBO Young Investigators MFPL group leaders Claudine Kraft (top) and Kristin Tessmar-Raible (bottom) were selected as EMBO Young Investigators. The program supports researchers under the age of 40 during the critical early stage of their independent career, and comes with a range of benefits such as an award of 15,000 euros, as well as laboratory management and non-scientific skills training. Claudine Kraft’s group works on the regulation and signaling in autophagy, while Kristin Tessmar-Raible’s team investigates how solar and lunar light are sensed by the nervous system and how this light information impacts on information processing and endogenous clocks.

Dr. Paul Janssen Prize & Breakthrough Prize Emmanuelle Charpentier, former group leader at the MFPL, was awarded the Dr. Paul Janssen Prize for Biomedical Research, endowed with 100,000 US dollars, as well as the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in the Life Sciences category, endowed with 3 million US dollars, for her work on the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Rings of Honor “Sub Auspiciis Praesidentis rei publicae” Astrid Hagelkrüys from the Seiser lab and Melanie Hassler, who completed her Master’s degree at the MFPL, received the Rings of Honor “Sub Auspiciis Praesidentis rei publicae”. The award - the highest possible distinction for study achievements in Austria- was presented by the Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

FWF Lise-Meitner-Fellowship Nela Nikolic, Postdoc in Isabella Moll’s group, was awarded a Lise-Meitner-Fellowship by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), which will fund her project “Single-cell analysis of the MazF-mediated stress response in Escherichia coli”.


FWF Hertha-Firnberg-Fellowship

VBC PhD award

Justyna Sawa-Makarska received a Hertha-Firnberg-Fellowship by the FWF. The Postdoc in Sascha Martens’ lab will use the funding for her project “Molecular mechanisms of cargo-driven autophagosome formation”.

This year, two of five VBC PhD awards went to the MFPL: Cornelia Vesely (top) from the group of Michael Jantsch received the award for her thesis “Impact of ADAR proteins on microRNA abundance and sequence”, and Juliane Zantke (bottom) from Kristin Tessmar-Raible’s lab won with her thesis “Interactions of circadian and circalunar clocks and their regulation by light in Platynereis dumerilii”.

DOC Fellowships Freia von Raußendorf (top), joint PhD student of Ivan Yudushkin and Thomas Leonard, as well as Christine Abert (bottom), a PhD student in the lab of Sascha Martens, were awarded DOC Fellowships by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OEAW). The fellowships will support Freia’s PhD project “Molecular mechanisms of lipid-mediated activation of Tec kinases” and Christine’s PhD project “Atg11 in Selective Autophagy”, respectively.

EMBO/EMBL symposium poster prize Ekaterina Shimanovskaya, PhD student in Gang Dong’s group, won the best poster prize at the EMBO/EMBL Symposium “Molecular Machines” for her poster “Structure of the C. elegans ZYG-1 cryptic polo boxes suggests a conserved mechanism for centriolar docking of Plk4 kinases”.

uni:docs Fellowship

EMDS meeting poster prize

Stefan Benke from the Versteeg lab received a uni:docs Fellowship of the University of Vienna for his PhD project that studies the role of ubiquitilation in immunity and inflammation.

Andrea Majoros from the Decker lab was awarded a poster prize at the European Macrophage & Dendritic Cell Society (EMDS) meeting for her poster “Evidence for phospho-tyrosine independent signaling activity of STAT1”.

VAAM doctoral award Yvonne Göpel, Postdoc in Boris Görke’s group, received a doctoral award of the Association for General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM) – the most important PhD award in the field of microbiology in Germany – for her PhD thesis “GlmY and GlmZ: a hierarchically acting regulatory cascade composed of two small RNAs”.

People’s Choice award Lucia Aronica, Postdoc in the Schroeder lab, won the People’s Choice award of the science writing competition “Access to Understanding” of Europe PubMed Central and The British Library for her article “How healthy eating could starve out cancer”.

ÖGMBT PhD award Michael Tscherner from the Kuchler lab won a PhD award of the Austrian Association of Molecular Life Sciences and Biotechnology (ÖGMBT) for his PhD thesis “The role of histone deposition pathways in Candida albicans stress resistance and virulence”.




esearch Groups Research at the MFPL is curiosity-driven and spans the field of Molecular and Cell Biology. Most groups investigate basic research questions but a significant number are also active in more applied fields of biology. In 2014, more than 470 people from 44 nations worked at the MFPL. Detailed information about all MFPL research groups, their research focus, list of publications and team can be found on the MFPL website:

Gustav Ammerer Signal transduction and transcriptional regulation in yeast Manuela Baccarini Deciphering the MAPK pathway in vivo Andreas Bachmair Protein modifiers in plants and retrotransposon biology Andrea Barta Post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in plants Dieter Blaas Early interactions of viruses with host cells Udo Bläsi Post-transcriptional regulation in bacteria and archaea Alexander Dammermann Centriole assembly and function Thomas Decker Host responses and innate immunity to bacteria Kristina Djinović-Carugo Structural biology of the cytoskeleton Gang Dong Structural studies of ciliogenesis Silke Dorner The regulation of gene expression by small ncRNAs Roland Foisner Lamins in nuclear organization and human disease Peter Fuchs Stress response in simple epithelia Boris Görke Signal transduction and post-transcriptional regulation in model bacteria Angela Hancock Molecular basis of adaptive evolution Andreas Hartig Origin and biogenesis of peroxisomes


Marcela Hermann LDL-R gene family, apolipoproteins and lipid transfer Joachim Hermisson Theoretical population genetics Reinhold Hofbauer Consequences of carnitine deficiency and CSF-1 inhibition N.-Erwin Ivessa Protein biogenesis and degradation from the ER Michael Jantsch Transcriptome diversification through RNA editing Verena Jantsch Meiosis in Caenorhabditis elegans Franz Klein Chromosome structure and meiotic recombination Alwin Köhler Gene expression and chromosome dynamics Gottfried Köhler Biomolecular optical spectroscopy Robert Konrat Computational biology and biomolecular NMR spectroscopy Pavel Kovarik Signaling and gene expression in inflammation Heinrich Kowalski Molecular and structural biology of picornaviruses Claudine Kraft Regulation and signaling in autophagy Karl Kuchler Host-pathogen interactions & mechanisms of fungal virulence Thomas Leonard Structural biology of lipid-activated signal transduction Josef Loidl Meiotic chromosome pairing and recombination


Sascha Martens Molecular mechanisms of autophagy Isabella Moll Bacterial stress response and ribosome heterogeneity Ernst Müllner Erythrocyte (patho)physiology Johannes Nimpf ApoER2 and VLDL receptor Egon Ogris PP2A enzyme biogenesis and monoclonal antibodies Friedrich Propst The neuronal cytoskeleton in axon guidance Florian Raible Hormonal control of animal energy expenditure Johann Rotheneder Cell cycle regulation and DNA damage response Matthias Schäfer RNA modifications: their impact on gene expression and innate immunity Peter Schlögelhofer Meiotic recombination Renée Schroeder RNA aptamers that regulate the transcriptome Christian Seiser Chromatin modifiers in development and disease Tim Skern Interactions between viruses and cells Dea Slade DNA damage response Kristin Tessmar-Raible Lunar periodicity and inner brain photoreceptors

Alipasha Vaziri Dynamics of coupled biological systems: methods and phenomena Gijs Versteeg Ubiquitin-mediated regulation of immune signaling Arndt von Haeseler Bioinformatics Christina Waldsich Exploring RNA folding: from structure to function Graham Warren Golgi biogenesis Georg Weitzer Somatic stem cells of the heart Gerhard Wiche Cytolinker proteins in signaling and disease Angela Witte ɸCh1, a model for gene regulation in haloalkaliphilic archaea Ivan Yudushkin Functional imaging of signaling networks Bojan Žagrović Biophysics of macromolecular interactions




ew Research Groups


Molecular basis of adaptive evolution Adaptation to different local environments can result in large-scale phenotypic diversity across a species’ range. Determining how this variation is produced and maintained is a central goal of evolutionary biology.

Angela Hancock TEAM

Mia Goessinger

Our research integrates population genetics, bioinformatics, quantitative genetics and controlled experiments (in Arabidopsis) to clarify how species respond to environmental selection pressures. Identifying variation that underlies adaptation to the environment We conduct population genetic analyses on spatially-explicit genomic data sets to understand how adaptation progressed in natural systems. We are particularly interested in clarifying what types of molecular variants underlie adaptation, what mode of selection drove adaptive differentiation and why these factors sometimes differ among species. Reconstructing evolutionary histories in island Arabidopsis By comprehensively characterizing the evolutionary process in particular cases, we can uncover general principles of adaptation and evolutionary change. However, in complex

organisms from natural populations, this is a daunting task because it requires knowledge of the natural environment, the important adaptive traits, the genetic basis of phenotypic variation, and evidence that differences in this genetic basis equate to fitness differentials in the natural population. Ecologically interesting populations of well-studied model organisms can provide the background knowledge and tools necessary to overcome this challenge. Islands represent powerful systems for unraveling evolutionary histories because in these systems complexity is reduced relative to mainland populations and natural processes can be studied in relative isolation. To this end, we are using populations of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana from Macaronesian archipelagos to dissect phenotypic variation and reconstruct adaptive histories. Ongoing and planned projects focus on identifying functional genetic variants, modeling their evolutionary histories and testing for fitness differentials in simulated and natural environments using a combination of population genetic analysis, trait mapping, genome editing and field work.

Arabidopsis growing in Cape Verde Islands.


SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Horton MW, Hancock AM, Huang YS, Toomajian C, Atwell A, Auton A, Muliyati NW, Platt A, Sperone FG, WilhjĂĄlmsson BJ, Nordborg M, Borevitz JO, Bergelson J. Genome-wide patterns of genetic variation in worldwide Arabidopsis thaliana accessions from the RegMap panel. Nat. Genet. 2012;44:212-216. PMID: 22231484 Hancock AM, Brachi B, Faure N, Horton MW, Jarymowycz LB, F. Sperone G, Toomajian C, Roux F, Joy Bergelson J. Adaptation to Climate Across the Arabidopsis thaliana Genome. Science 2011;334(6052):83-86. PMID: 21980108 Hancock AM, Witonsky DB, Ehler E, Alkorta-Aranburu G, Beall C, Gebremedhin A, Sukernik R, Utermann G, Pritchard J, Coop G, Di Rienzo A. Colloquium paper: human adaptations to diet, subsistence, and ecoregion are due to subtle shifts in allele frequency. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2010;107 Suppl 2:8924-30. PMID: 20445095



RNA modifications: their impact on gene expression and innate immunity RNAs carry post-transcriptional modifications. More than 130 distinct modifications have been detected but their biological functions remain mostly elusive. In contrast to the limited number of known DNA modifications (< 10), RNAs are “decorated” with (at least) 13 distinct post-transcriptional modifications (both at terminal and internal positions). The chemical nature of these modifications, especially in non-coding RNAs, can be diverse and very complex. However, the majority involves methylation reactions indicating the importance of methylated nucleotides for the function of RNA or DNA molecules. For instance, it is now well established that DNA is methylated in most organisms in form of 5-methylcytosine (m5C). This modification is also found in RNAs but its biological function is mostly unknown. Importantly, studies of DNA modifications contributed greatly to the concept of epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Recent findings point towards a role for RNA, and possibly RNA modifications, for the regulation of gene expression, which has set the stage for defining an exciting new concept: “RNA epigenetics”. My group applies genetic and biochemical tools in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to understand how m5C in RNA • Impacts on RNA stability and function • Controls stress-induced RNA processing • Affects the interaction with RNA-binding proteins • Contributes to the regulation of gene expression In particular, we are interested in: • The characterization of m5C RNA methylomes by using various methods to map this modification systematically and transcriptomewide in different tissues and during various

stress conditions. CRISPR-mediated genome editing is used to tag and manipulate the function of various m5C RNA methyltransferases in an attempt to understand the nature of m5C RNA methylation systems in Drosophila; • The impact of m5C RNA methylation on the innate immune response. We are using virusinfection paradigms to determine how m5C RNA methyltransferases affect anti-viral responses in Drosophila; • The biological function of stress-induced tRNA fragments. Using inducible and tissuespecific expression of tRNA anticodon nucleases allows to study the cellular pathways that are affected by tRNA fragments, to measure tRNA fragment metabolism and to analyze their movement between different tissues and their inheritance into the next generation. Our long-term goal is to characterize how RNA modifications contribute to genome regulation and, importantly, how they influence the reprogramming of gene expression under environmental impact such as stress conditions.

Matthias Schäfer TEAM

Bianca Genenncher Sophie Juliane Veigl Daniela Zinkl

m5C RNA methyltransferase activity has been connected to RNA stability and to mobile element control. It is presently unclear how exactly m5C-methylated RNA impacts on these and other processes.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Durdevic Z, Mobin MB, Hanna K, Lyko F, Schaefer M. The RNA methyltransferase Dnmt2 is required for efficient Dicer-2-dependent siRNA pathway activity in Drosophila. Cell Rep. 2013;4(5):931-7. PMID: 24012760 Durdevic Z, Hanna K, Gold B, Pollex T, Cherry S, Lyko F, Schaefer M. Efficient RNA virus control in Drosophila requires the RNA methyltransferase Dnmt2. Embo Rep. 2013;14(3):269-75. PMID: 23370384 Schaefer M, Pollex T, Hanna K, Lyko F. RNA cytosine methylation analysis by bisulfite sequencing. Nucleic Acids Res. 2009;37(2):e12. PMID: 19059995




esearch Highlights 2014

Molecular structure of α-actinin revealed The team of Kristina Djinović-Carugo solves the structure of α-actinin and gives insights into its regulation.

Kristina Djinović-Carugo

The illustration shows a surface representation of the α-actinin dimer against a background of muscle sacromeres viewed under the electron microscope. The sacromeres display a typical striated pattern, and are connected via joint Z-discs, seen as dark black and grey diagonal stripes.

Most animals rely on muscles to move, irrespective whether it is to feed, fight or flee. The smallest building block of a muscle is the sarcomere, hundreds of which are successively arranged to form muscle fibers. Sarcomeres are mainly made up of actin and myosin filaments. Muscle shortening or contraction depends on these filaments sliding against each other, and requires that the actin filaments are anchored in planes, called Z-discs. The major Z-disc protein is α-actinin, which is also responsible for anchoring

another protein called titin. α-Actinin is an essential protein: embryos that cannot produce it die, and mutations in α-actinin are linked to muscular dystrophies and cardiomyopathies. Kristina Djinović-Carugo and her group have used X-ray crystallography to determine the molecular structure of the α-actinin dimer. Each molecule has a head, short neck region and a rod-shaped body that looks like four fusilli pasta aligned in a zigzag. The head of α-actinin binds actin whilst two small L-shaped parts sit at the end of the rod and interact with the neck of the other molecule. However, the structure revealed to be more than the sum of its parts: placing two diametrically opposing α-actinin molecules does not only allow simultaneous binding of actin and titin filaments and so anchoring them in the Z-disc, but also confers regulation. The researchers confirmed the long-standing hypothesis that the interaction of α-actinin with titin is regulated via the phospholipid PIP2. If there is no PIP2, one of the L-shaped parts of an α-actinin molecule binds a titin-lookalike region in the neck of the opposing molecule. If PIP2 is present, the L-shaped part detaches from the neck and binds titin. In collaboration with Mathias Gautel at King’s College London the scientists also discovered that, when they destroyed α-actinin’s binding site for PIP2 or locked it in a position which can permanently bind titin, ordered sarcomeres were lost; the muscle was broken. These findings on α-actinin place another piece in the puzzle to fully understand how muscle is built and flexes at the molecular level. This will help to better understand both inherited and acquired muscular diseases, and aid therapy development.

Ribeiro Ede A Jr, Pinotsis N, Ghisleni A, Salmazo A, Konarev PV, Kostan J, Sjöblom B, Schreiner C, Polyansky AA, Gkougkoulia EA, Holt MR, Aachmann FL, Zagrović B, Bordignon E, Pirker KF, Svergun DI, Gautel M, Djinović-Carugo K. The Structure and Regulation of Human Muscle α-Actinin. Cell. 2014;159(6): 1447-60. PMID: 25433700



High-speed imaging method captures entire brain activity The lab of Alipasha Vaziri develops a new technique to monitor complete nervous systems of living animals. Neurons encode information – sensory data, motor plans, emotional states, and thoughts – using electrical impulses called action potentials, which provoke calcium ions to stream into each cell as it fires. By engineering model organisms that carry fluorescent proteins which glow when they bind calcium, scientists can visualize this electrical firing of neurons in live animals. However, until now there has been no way to image this neural activity over a large volume, in three dimensions, at high speed and resolution. Now, Robert Prevedel from the lab of Alipasha Vaziri together with Edward Boyden’s team at MIT has developed a technique to generate 3-D movies of entire brains at the millisecond timescale. Based on light-field imaging, which captures angular information of incoming rays of light to create 3-D images, the team led by Alipasha Vaziri has built a microscope optimized to have single neuron resolution. In the new microscope the light emitted by the sample is sent through an array of lenses that refract the light in different directions. Each point of the sample generates about 400 different points of light. The researchers used the technique to image neural activity in the worm C. elegans for which the entire neural wiring diagram is known. This worm has 302 neurons, each of which the researchers imaged as it performed natural behaviors, such as crawling. To demonstrate the power of the new technology in higher organisms they also studied larvae of zebrafish, whose nervous system consists of over 100,000 neurons

that fire at a much faster rate, rather like humans. In the tiny larvae, the scientists were able to induce neuronal response to odor stimuli in around 500 neurons and track the nerve signals simultaneously in about 5000 activated neurons. The findings could be ultimately useful for understanding how the dynamic pattern of activity in the brain generates behavior and building respective computational models. Such models are in high demand in the area of machine learning and object recognition and classification.

Alipasha Vaziri

Head region and the majority of the brain of a zebrafish larvae, as recorded and reconstructed using the light-field microscope. Parts of the brain showing pronounced neuronal activity are artificially colored in magenta to white, proportional to the strength of the activity.

Prevedel R, Yoon YG, Hoffmann M, Pak N, Wetzstein G, Kato S, Schrödel T, Raskar R, Zimmer M, Boyden ES, Vaziri A. Simultaneous whole-animal 3D imaging of neuronal activity using light-field microscopy. Nat Methods. 2014;11(7):727-30. PMID: 24836920



Taking out (only) the trash Sascha Martens and his team address the question of how a cell is able to dispose of its own unwanted parts without removing bits and pieces that are still needed.

Sascha Martens

Although at first sight a cell might appear as a glut of seemingly unorganized proteins and cellular structures, the interior of a cell is very well organized and its order rigorously sustained. If organelles are irreparably damaged or if toxic substances such as protein aggregates appear in a cell, they are immediately cleared out. This needs to happen quickly, efficiently and precisely. However, at the same time the cell cannot

afford to randomly lose functional parts during the removal of the unwanted material. Hence, the superfluous material, the cargo, has to be selectively recognized and neatly separated from the surrounding functional cellular material. This is accomplished by tightly enwrapping the cargo in a membrane, leading to the formation of tiny vesicles called autophagosomes. These autophagosomes later fuse with the cell’s waste bin, the lysosome, where their cargo is degraded. This process is called selective autophagy and it is somewhat similar to putting household waste in a trash bag, which is later disposed and recycled by the rubbish collectors. The cargo of an autophagosome is selected by cargo receptors, which bridge the cargo with the membrane of the autophagosome. Defects in selective autophagy can result in neurodegeneration, cancer and uncontrolled infections. In their study, VIPS Postdoc Justyna Sawa-Makarska, PhD student Christine Abert and their colleagues from the Martens’ lab demonstrate in molecular detail a direct interplay between the cargo, its receptor and the membrane. Interestingly, they found that the cargo (prApe1) notifies its receptor (Atg19) that it is ready to be picked up. The receptor then binds and covers the surface of the cargo. Subsequently, the Atg19 receptor “opens”, allowing it to tightly interact with the Atg8 protein on the autophagosomal membrane. The Atg19-Atg8 interaction occurs in multiple sites enabling very tight membrane apposition and enclosure of the selected cargo, while any other cellular material is excluded from the autophagosomal vesicle. This way, the cell ensures that only the targeted cargo is trapped, wrapped and cleared out from its cytoplasm, while its healthy material is unaffected.

A cargo (beads) wrapped and trapped by the membrane (red).

Sawa-Makarska Sawa-Makarska J, Abert C,J,Romanov Abert C, J,Romanov Zens B, Ibiricu J, ZensI,B,Martens Ibiricu I,S.Martens Cargo binding S. Cargotobinding Atg19 unmasks to Atg19additional unmasks Atg8 binding additional sites toAtg8 mediate binding membrane-cargo sites to mediate apposition membrane-cargo during selective apposition autophagy. during Natselective Cell Biol. autophagy. 2014;16(5): 425-33. PMID: Nat Cell 24705553 Biol. 2014 May;16(5):425-33. PMID: 24705553



Not just clean but spotless – how cells tidy up The team of Claudine Kraft gives insights into how cells dispose of their waste – malfunctions in this process have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. It’s not just us who have to do housework, even our cells need to clean and tidy up. For cells this means to remove damaged cell material or pathogens, such as bacteria. In order to dispose its waste, the cell wraps it up, similar to putting garbage in a bag, and this cellular trash bag is then brought to the cellular recycling station where the waste is broken down into the re-usable parts. This cellular process is called autophagy, which also helps cells to survive in times of starvation by recycling the cells’ own components to produce energy. The key coordinator of autophagy is a protein named Atg1. Daniel Papinski from the Kraft group investigated how Atg1 exactly does its job, and found that it modifies a set of proteins with a specific recognition sequence. In collaboration with colleagues including Gustav Ammerer at the MFPL and Ben Turk at the University of Yale, USA, he also determined the cellular proteins containing this sequence. Amongst them, with six of these specific recognition sequences, was Atg9, a known component of the cellular “waste bag”. When the researchers altered the recognition sequences of Atg9, Atg1 was unable to modify Atg9 and no autophagy, so no waste disposal, took place at all. More experiments revealed that modified Atg9 recruits further proteins – an interplay ensuring that cellular waste is packaged and disposed of.

A recently developed method additionally allowed the scientists to monitor autophagy live under the microscope. This revealed that cells containing Atg9 with an altered recognition sequence, which Atg1 cannot modify, stop the packaging of the cellular waste prematurely. In conclusion this showed that the proper function of Atg1 and Atg9 is crucial during early stages of the waste disposal process when the garbage is collected into “bags”. This detailed understanding of autophagy is essential for the study of diseases that go hand in hand with this process, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Claudine Kraft

Live monitoring of autophagy (top right): cells package their waste (red) in a bag (green). The key coordinator of this cellular “garbage collection” is the protein Atg1. When Atg1’s ability to modify a component of the “waste bag” is abolished, cells are unable to package their waste (bottom right).

Papinski D, Schuschnig M, Reiter W, Wilhelm L, Barnes CA, Maiolica A, Hansmann I, Pfaffenwimmer T, Kijanska M, Stoffel I, Lee SS, Brezovich A, Lou JH, Turk BE, Aebersold R, Ammerer G, Peter M, Kraft C. Early steps in autophagy depend on direct phosphorylation of Atg9 by the Atg1 kinase. Mol Cell. 2014;53(3):471-83. PMID: 24440502



Start signal for transcription of stressed genes identified Christian Seiser and his team identify a hallmark of stress-activated genes and describe the molecular mechanism through which it starts their transcription.

Christian Seiser

When people talk about stress, they generally refer to feeling the strains of too high burdens at work or in their private life. In biology, the term stress has a broader meaning: discovered and first described in 1936 by Viennese physician and biochemist Hans Selye stress is “a psychological and physical reaction to external stimuli, which the body initially reacts to by mobilizing its defense mechanisms.” Triggers for stress not only include emotional strain, but also physical factors such as heat, cold, too much sun, infections, injuries, and toxic substances. When cells – the building blocks of our body – are stressed, for example with certain chemicals, they immediately activate a specific transcription program: certain genes are activated in a tightly regulated mode that defines which gene is activated for how long. Anna Sawicka from the Seiser lab showed that almost half of all the genes that are immediately activated under stress share a hallmark: the protein histone H3 at their promoters is marked with a phosphate residue. That came

as a big surprise as this specific mark is usually only found at a small fraction of all histone H3 proteins. Following, Anna Sawicka established two methods that allowed her to identify which genes share the hallmark, as well as its function. She could show that this modification is mainly present at paused genes. Figuratively speaking, these are genes that are like motor racing cars with a running engine waiting at the start of a race. The phosphate mark then acts as a start signal: it interrupts the interaction of H3 with a repressor in the promoter region leading to the activation of transcription of the stress-regulated genes. A detailed understanding of the stress reaction on a molecular level could help to develop therapeutics to treat stress-related disease. Christian Seiser and his team now work to understand the function of the histone mark for longterm activation of genes during the stress response.

The hallmark of stress-activated genes – the phosphorylation mark H3S28ph – is mainly found at paused genes which, figuratively speaking, are like motor racing cars with a running engine at the start of a race. H3S28 phosphorylation interrupts the interaction with the SIN3A/HDAC repressor complex, leading to increased histone acetylation levels – the start signal for the activation of transcription of these genes.

Sawicka A, Hartl D, Goiser M, Pusch O, Stocsits RR, Tamir IM, Mechtler K, Seiser C. H3S28 phosphorylation is a hallmark of the transcriptional response to cellular stress. Genome Res. 2014;24(11):1808-20. PMID: 25135956



The double-stranded transcriptome of Escherichia coli The Schroeder lab has developed a high-throughout technique to enrich and detect functional antisense-RNAs. DNA can be transcribed to produce an mRNA molecule and thus information for protein synthesis. However, transcription can also take place in the opposite direction to produce an antisense-RNA (asRNA). This asRNA can then bind its respective mRNA to regulate the expression of the mRNA. Whether asRNAs are functional is still a matter of debate and criteria are needed to define functionality. For an asRNA to interfere with the expression of the mRNA, it needs to base pair with its cognate mRNA and form a double stranded RNA. This is a prerequisite for functionality. The group of Renée Schroeder could show that there are hundreds of these double stranded mRNA-asRNA pairs in an E. coli cell. Postdoc Megan Lybecker has developed a high-throughput method to enrich for functional asRNAs. Based on the hypothesis that functional asRNAs are those in complex with their cognate sense RNAs, she used a monoclonal antibody specific for double stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) to immunoprecipitate mRNA-asRNA pairs. This showed that most dsRNA regions are found upstream of annotated genes – the region were gene expression levels are usually

controlled – or in-between two genes that are transcribed together. The researchers suspect that this may allow independent regulation of genes that are encoded on the same operon. One of the examples where the team found regulation through asRNA to be crucial was in toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems in E. coli. For type I TA systems, it is known that synthesis of the toxin is controlled through inhibiting its translation via an asRNA. While in type II TA systems the toxin and antitoxin proteins are expressed from two tandem genes. The results indicate that type II TA systems in E. coli might also be regulated via asRNAs. They hypothesize that the asRNA binds the toxin mRNA, and that the resulting dsRNA is quickly degraded. Under “normal” circumstances this would ensure that toxin levels in E. coli are kept low. The method to enrich and detect dsRNAs and thus functional asRNAs can also be applied to other organisms, including human cell lines, allowing to gain further insights into the cellular functions of asRNAs.

Renée Schroeder

Discovery of an antisense RNA for the type II toxin-antitoxin mqsR.

Lybecker M, Zimmermann B, Bilusic I, Tukhtubaeva N, Schroeder R. The double-stranded transcriptome of Escherichia coli. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(8):3134-9. PMID: 24453212



Progress in the fight against harmful human-pathogenic fungi An international study, coordinated by the team of Karl Kuchler, generates a genome-scale gene deletion collection for the human fungal pathogen Candida glabrata. The collection enables the discovery of 28 novel genes implicated in drug resistance against the most important antifungal drugs.

Karl Kuchler

Infectious diseases caused by fungi, viruses, bacteria and parasites stand out as the number one cause of death worldwide. Remarkably, only about a dozen of pathogenic fungi claim more than 1,5 million human lives every year. Especially people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk of infections with Candida species, the most prevalent human fungal pathogen. Invasive infections by Candida spp are of high morbidity and mortality in about 40% of systemic infections. More than 8 billion euros are spent worldwide on anti-fungal drugs, with overall medicare costs for treating infections by pathogenic fungi exceeding double-digit billions. The second-most common Candida fungus harmful to humans, Candida glabrata, is a major clinical problem, since it displays an inherent nat-

ural tolerance to antifungal drugs. Moreover, pronounced resistance can develop upon anti-fungal therapy and rapid and reliable clinical diagnosis has been a challenging task. Hence, infections with Candida glabrata require treatment with very expensive drugs such as Caspofungin, which blocks the biogenesis of components of the carbohydrate-rich outer cell wall exclusively found in fungal species. Treatment of Candida glabrata infections is becoming increasingly difficult due to common anti-fungal resistance, the high costs of Caspofungin and because of dramatically increasing prevalence of infections with Candida glabrata in many parts of the world. The lab of Karl Kuchler has coordinated an international researcher network to identify new tolerance and virulence genes in Candida glabrata. The group pursued a reverse-genetics approach and generated more more than 600 gene deletion mutants, each missing a single gene. This mutant collection is one of the three largest libraries of “knock-out fungi” in the world. Remarkably, the detailed phenotypic analysis of the Candida glabrata mutant collection led to the discovery of 28 novel genes that are able to confer antifungal drug tolerance, especially to Caspofungin, the most important drug for treating Candida glabrata infections. The genetic removal of these genes dramatically increases fungal sensitivity to medications, including Caspofungin, making these corresponding genes suitable targets for the development of new and more effective antifungal drugs.

Colony and cell morphologies of Candia glabrata deletion strains.


Schwarzmüller T, Ma B, Hiller E, Istel F, Tscherner M, Brunke S, Ames L, Firon A, Green B, Cabral V, Marcet-Houben M, Jacobsen ID, Quintin J, Seider K, Frohner I, Glaser W, Jungwirth H, Bachellier-Bassi S, Chauvel M, Zeidler U, Ferrandon D, Gabaldón T, Hube B, d’Enfert C, Rupp S, Cormack B, Haynes K, Kuchler K. Systematic phenotyping of a large-scale Candida glabrata deletion collection reveals novel antifungal tolerance genes. PLoS Pathog. 2014;10(6):e1004211. PMID 24945925


Conserved mechanism for centriole targeting of Plk4 kinases revealed Gang Dong`s group report the molecular mechanism for centriolar docking of Plk4 kinases, which is conserved from worms to humans.

Centrioles are present in most eukaryotes and play important roles in both centrosome formation and cilium biogenesis; dysregulation of either process has been linked to a large number of human disorders. For example, defects in proper centriole biogenesis often result in chromosome segregation errors and developmental disorders and have been linked with carcinogenesis. Polo-like kinase 4 (Plk4) has been shown as a master regulator in coupling centriole duplication with cell cycle progression. It possesses a central domain known as the cryptic polo box (CPB), which is responsible for the binding of Plk4 to the centriolar receptor proteins Asterless/Cep152 and SPD-2/Cep192 to allow centriolar targeting of the kinase. Dissecting how the CPB functions to coordinate Plk4 targeting is an essential step for our understanding about the tight control of centriole copy number. While Plk4 is present in flies and mammals, the kinase ZYG-1 controls centriole duplication in C. elegans. It has been debated whether ZYG-1 is a bona fide homologue of Plk4 due

to the low sequence similarity shared by the two kinases. Ekaterina Shimanovskaya and Johannes Lesigang from the Dong group have recently solved the crystal structures for the CPBs of both Drosophila Plk4 and C. elegans ZYG-1, which reveal that the two structures share high similarities. In collaboration with Karen Oegemaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s group at the University of California San Diego the researchers further established that the centriolar docking of the CPBs of ZYG-1 and Plk4 on a molecular level is via electrostatic interactions between the kinases and their centriolar receptors to initiate daughter centriole assembly. The results not only provide compelling evidence that ZYG-1 is indeed a Plk4 homolog in nematodes, but also shed light on the conserved molecular mechanisms underlying the recruitment of Plk4 and ZYG-1 to the nascent centriole.

Gang Dong

ZYG-1 and Plk4 are recruited to mother centrioles through an interaction between their central CPB domains and acidic regions in the centriolar receptors SPD-2 and/or Asterless (Asl). Other essential centriolar components are SAS-5/Ana2, SAS-6, SAS-4/CPAP and microtubules, which are recruited hierarchically during centriole formation as shown on the left.

Shimanovskaya E, Viscardi V, Lesigang J, Lettman MM, Qiao R, Svergun DI, Round A, Oegema K, Dong G. Structure of the C. elegans ZYG-1 cryptic polo box suggests a conserved mechanism for centriolar docking of Plk4 kinases. Structure. 2014;22(8):1090-104. PMID: 24980795 (The publication is highlighted in the August issue of the Journal.)




FPL Symposium “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences”

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Nobel Prize Laureate Max F. Perutz, the MFPL celebrated with the “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” symposium on 10th to 12th September in the Ceremonial Chambers of the University of Vienna. The celebratory symposium was kicked off with a soiree themed “Austrian Science Funding and Max Perutz”. After the inaugurating statements by Rector Wolfgang Schütz of the Medical University of Vienna, Vice-Rector Karl Schwaha of the University of Vienna and the Scientific Director of the MFPL Graham Warren, the guest were shown an image video of the MFPL – a premiere for the video which highlights the work and what the MFPL stand for. Following, pupils from HLFS Ursprung in Salzburg presented a joint project with MFPL scientists, for which they had spent three days at the MFPL to repeat a seminal experiment of Perutz with modern techniques. Afterwards, Pascale Ehrenfreund, president of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), held the keynote lecture, where she talked about her own research, but also highlighted the initiatives of the FWF and other Austrian funding agencies


that aim to support scientific research and to keep highly qualified scientists in Austria or bring them back. Days two and three of the symposium were dedicated to science: 23 highly renowned scientists presented their latest findings in the fields of structural biology, cell signaling, bioinformatics, chromosome dynamics and RNA-biology. Colleagues and friends of Perutz amongst the invited speakers made their contribution to honor Perutz: the man, the scientist and the leader. The symposium was opened by Rector Schütz and ViceRector Schwaha, followed by an opening lecture by Michael Rossmann. Rossmann, a Postdoc with Perutz in Cambridge in the early 1960s, developed the first computer programs to analyze Perutz’ X-ray crystallography data and solve protein structures. During his talk he gave very personal insights into


how his career had been influenced by working with Perutz. For Rossmann, the main impact of solving the structure of hemoglobin in 1959 by Perutz and his colleague John Kendrew is that scientists could prove for the first time that Darwin’s theory of evolution was correct on a molecular level and not only taxonomically. Tom Steitz, who received the Nobel Prize in 2009 for his work on the structure and function of the ribosome, honored Perutz as a great inspiration. This was particularly true for himself, as he explained that the Dunham Lectures that Perutz held in 1963 in Harvard had inspired him to become a protein crystallographer. Richard Henderson, who worked with Perutz at the LMB in Cambridge until his death, explained that they even now still try and follow all of Perutz’ best ideas. One of them is that every

institute needs a good canteen as a place where scientists can meet and discuss their ideas. Other world-renowned scientists who expressed their appreciation of Perutz as a man and as a scientist were the British botanist and Professor of the University of Cambridge, Sir David Baulcombe, as well as MFPL alumna Emmanuelle Charpentier. MFPL scientists completed the scientific part of the symposium with lectures and poster presentations. The event was a terrific occasion for scientific exchange and highlighted Vienna as a Life Sciences Hub. An online special about the 2014 MFPL symposium including videos and pictures can be found at:

MFPL wishes to thank the following partners and sponsors of the “Crossing Frontiers in Life Sciences” symposium: University of Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, DP ‘Structure and Interaction of Biological Macromolecules’, DP ‘RNA Biology’, DP and SFB ‘Chromosome Dynamics’, SFB ‘RNA-REG’, DP ‘Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Signaling’, CIBIV, EMBO, ÖGMBT, Starlab, Promega, Eppendorf, eubio, THP Medical Products, New England Biolabs, Haplogen, Valneva, Shimadzu, Lactan, and Microsynth.




esearch Initiatives & Networks Collaboration is a major element and inevitable prerequisite for excellence in scientific research. Our group leaders are therefore actively involved in local, national and international research networks. One example are Special Research Programs (SFBs) funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). SFBs are peer-reviewed, highly interactive research networks, established to foster long-term, interdisciplinary co-operation of local research groups enabling them to work on the frontiers of their thematic areas. Another collaborative research project, coordinated by MFPL, is the Center for Optimized Structural Studies (COSS), funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) as a “Laura Bassi Centre of Excellence”. The Laura Bassi funding program promotes research networks led by women at the interface between science and industry. MFPL group leaders are also involved in several interdisciplinary research platforms of the University of Vienna. These are organizational units between faculties to advance innovative and interdisciplinary research areas. Detailed information about research networks involving MFPL scientists can be found on our website:

Laura Bassi Centre “COSS – Center for Optimized Structural Studies”

Gel image of proteins purified after small scale expression screening.

Proteins are the building blocks of life and can be found in every cell. Being able to decode the structure of proteins means a better understanding of numerous processes in the body. Structure determination at atomic detail requires high levels of protein quality and in large quantity. To investigate proteins, for instance, via X-ray diffraction analysis they need not only to be produced and purified but also to be crystallized, thus requiring more time and labor intensive experiments. The major aim of COSS is to research innovative methods to produce sufficient quantities of high-quality protein that can be used for structural and/or functional studies. HEAD

SFB “RNA Regulation of the Transcriptome”

Kristina Djinović-Carugo

The special research program “RNA-REG” is studying how RNA-networks control the flow of genetic information. All cellular processes affecting the transcriptome are modulated by regulatory RNAs, from epigenetic phenomena, chromatin structure and transcription to RNA-processing, transport, decay and translation. Research in “RNA-REG” aims to decipher regulatory RNA interactomes, their regulatory mechanisms and to understand their physiological consequences. Regulatory RNA networks are studied in models as diverse as bacteria, nematodes, insects, plants and mammals. Importantly, changes in regulatory RNA networks and their impact on development and disease progression are studied in normal and pathologic conditions. Lastly, unbiased large-scale approaches and bioinformatics pipelines enable to decipher the complexity of RNA-interactomes and their adaptive changes.



Michael Jantsch (MFPL), Isabella Moll (MFPL, Deputy)


SFB “Jak-Stat Signaling: from Basics to Disease” Jak-Stat signaling is used by a large number of cell surface receptors, particularly cytokine receptors, to reprogram gene expression and to regulate many biological responses in virtually all cell types and organs. The general objective of the SFB is to jointly investigate how Jaks and Stats regulate immunity to infection, inflammation and cancer. The unifying aim is to study these topics and the links between them. This concept is supported by similarities concerning mechanisms of acute inflammation and cancer progression, and the association of signal transduction originating from infection and inflammation with tumorigenesis. Contributions of Jaks and Stats to cell autonomous mechanisms of tumorigenesis are examined and connected to Jak-Stat contributions to cancer immune surveillance or the establishment of an inflammatory environment promoting cancer growth. These studies consider a role for hitherto poorly understood interactions with Jak-Stat partner molecules and they will test potential functions of non-canonical Stat activation. Furthermore, they address mechanisms by which Stats regulate expression of their target genes.


Mathias Müller (VetMedUni Vienna), Thomas Decker (MFPL, Deputy)

Signal transduction by the interferon (IFN) receptors.

SFB “Chromosome Dynamics” Chromosomes are not just simply receptacles for our body plan, they are highly dynamic structures, which change their properties dramatically according to the necessities of cell cycle and reproduction. The SFB “Chromosome Dynamics”, started in 2008, aims to define chromosomal domains, such as the kinetochore, chromosome axis, loop domains and recombination hotspots on a molecular level. Various aspects of chromosome biology are studied by eight groups from MFPL, IMBA and IMP altogether. The kinetochore-microtubule attachment and the biochemistry of cohesins, both key aspects of segregation, are studied in meiosis and in mitosis in budding yeast as well as in mouse and human cells. Additional novel aspects of chromosome architecture are investigated in human cells. In meiosis I, chromosome segregation is ensured by recombination, involving massive DNA damage and its repair. Both of these aspects are studied in yeast, plant and animal model systems. Recombination hotspots are studied in budding yeast and Arabidopsis thaliana. High-end technological platforms, such as mass spectroscopy, micro arrays and next generation sequencing are used as discovery tools. Meiotic chromosome missegregation is a leading cause of miscarriages and Down’s syndrome and most cancers are associated with aberrant chromosome numbers.

Knowledge of segregation mechanisms is thus required to understand the etiology of these problems. SPEAKER

Franz Klein (MFPL), Jan Michael Peters (IMP, Deputy)

Nano-model of a meiotic chromosome. Pairs of sister-loops protrude from a common axis. Axis based robot arms sym-bolize the DNA-cleavage machinery, the right one with a piece of cleaved DNA. The interaction between axis and loop sequences is very important to make repair work for pairing and chromosome segregation.



Research Platform “Quantum Phenomena and Nanoscale Biological Systems – QuNaBioS” QuNaBioS is an interfaculty research platform between the Department of Physics and the Center for Molecular Biology of the University of Vienna. It encompasses a range of joint research activities between the Quantum Nanophysics group of Markus Arndt at the Department of Physics and the Dynamics of Coupled Biological Systems’ group of Alipasha Vaziri at the Vienna Biocenter. The QuNaBioS research platform has the following goals: • Strengthening the research profile of the University of Vienna by realizing existing synergies between quantum physics and biology through the establishment of joint research projects at the interface between quantum, nanophysics and biology


• Development of technologies and methodologies with applications in Life Sciences and their potential exploitation • Establishment of (expandable) structures for interdisciplinary research and training at the above interface For detailed information visit: HEAD

Alipasha Vaziri


Research Platform “Marine Rhythms of Life” The interdisciplinary team of the University of Vienna research platform “Marine Rhythms of Life” is on track to unravel how monthly clocks can function on a molecular level and impact on reproduction and regeneration of the marine bristleworm Platynereis dumerilii. These questions are jointly tackled by Kristin Tessmar-Raible, Florian Raible (both MFPL), Christopher Gerner (Institute of Analytical Chemistry) and Thomas Hummel (COSB, Faculty of Life Sciences). Together with Tobias Kaiser (Postdoc in Arndt von Haeseler’s group at CIBIV, MFPL), Kristin Tessmar-Raible and Thomas Hummel also try to find the molecular switches that evolution tinkers with to change daily and monthly timing in the marine midge Clunio marinus. The only clock understood so far on cellular or molecular level is the daily clock. Yet, the existence of multiple oscillators is likely the rule rather than the exception across the animal kingdom, including humans. HEAD

Kristin Tessmar-Raible

Research Platform “Decoding mRNA decay in inflammation” Regulation of gene expression by changes in mRNA stability is one of the most important mechanisms in the control of immune responses. Tristetraprolin (TTP) is a key mRNA-destabilizing protein regulating the elimination of inflammatory mRNAs such as TNF and other cytokines. TTP deficiency in mice causes severe inflammation and eventually premature death caused by uncontrolled cytokine accumulation. Thus, TTP plays an essential role in balancing immune responses. The fundamental question of how TTP selectively recognizes inflammatory mRNAs is not solved. This research platform funded by the University of Vienna employs structural biology in combination with bioinformatics and cell based approaches to decipher the key principles of TTP-mediated mRNA decay and to ultimately pave the way for exploitation of TTP in therapy of immune disorders. HEAD

Pavel Kovarik




cientific Facilities MFPL researchers use a broad spectrum of techniques to address novel questions in diverse areas of biology. Several in-house facilities, as well as services provided by the Campus Science Support Facilities (CSF) support the work of our scientists. More information about the scientific facilities at MFPL and the CSF can be found on our website:

BioOptics â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Light Microscopy

Histology Facility

The facility is dedicated to provide state-of-the art light microscopy equipment to MFPL researchers. Currently, three laser scanning confocal microscopes, two spinning disc units, a widefield live-imaging setup, an epifluorescence deconvolution microscope and a microdissection-laser ablation instrument are available. The team also provides professional training and assists with expertise in experimental planning, technical setup & optimization and image analysis.

The facility is equipped to produce high quality microscopic sections of frozen and paraffin-embedded material. Digital image capture and image analysis are available for bright field- and stereo-microscopy. Introduction, basic training and update sessions are held periodically by facility manager Irmgard Fischer.

BioOptics â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Flow Cytometry

Monoclonal Antibody Facility

The facility runs four flow cytometers for the measurement of fluorescence, size and granularity of cells or other particles in solution. The current equipment includes a FACS Fortessa (laser lines 405, 488, 561 and 640) and a FACS Aria cell sorter (laser lines 407, 488, 633), as well as two FACS Calibur machines (laser lines 488 and 635).

The facility specializes in the generation of custom-designed high quality mouse mono-clonal antibodies against any custom antigens, e.g. peptides, recombinant proteins, post-translational modifications and non-peptide antigens. The facility is highly sought after by the local but also the international research community.

Fish & Marine Facility

Equipment Park - Genomics

The fish facility provides maintenance and stock supply for the research groups working with both zebrafish (Danio rerio) and medakafish (Oryzias latipes). The marine facility serves to maintain and propagate several marine species, including the annelid worm Platynereis dumerilii, numerous strains of marine midges (Cluni marinus), as well as lab cultures of several sponges (Suberites domuncula).

The equipment park at MFPL consists of an Agilent 2-micron resolution high-throughput scanner and an Affymetrix GCS3000 7G system (including a scanner, fluidics station and hybridization oven).



Mass Spectrometry Facility

Structural Biology Facility

The facility provides mass spectrometry and proteomics services using a range of state of the art LC-MS analysis platforms and bioinformatic tools for the identification and quantification of peptides, proteins, and their post-translational modifications. The facility is run in close cooperation with the Protein Chemistry Group of the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) and the Campus Science Support Facilities (CSF), to efficiently maintain the analytical and computational equipment at peak performance and to promote scientific interactions at the Vienna Biocenter.

The facility provides training and access, as well as support in trouble shooting and data interpretation for: 1) Protein expression (in E. coli) and purification using different liquid chromatography approaches, 2) Biophysical characterization (dynamic and static light scattering, differential scanning fluorimetry), 3) Crystallization (robot assisted initial screening, crystal imaging and refinement of initial crystallization hits), 4) Test of crystals and 5) Data collection.

Bio-NMR Facility

Campus Science Support Facilities (CSF)

The facility currently houses four research instruments: a 500, two 600 and an 800MHz NMR spectrometer, two of which were recently refitted with latest-technology RF consoles. In addition, the unit also has IT facilities for NMR data analysis, structure calculations and molecular modeling and visualization. The facility offers a full range of NMR research services from routine sample characterization or interaction mapping to determination of solution structures of biological macromolecules.

Plant Growth Facility

The CSF is a publicly funded non-profit organization that offers top scientific infrastructure operated and constantly refined by highly qualified experts. To date the following CSF core facilities are operational: Electron Microscopy, Advanced Microscopy, Next Generation Sequencing, Preclinical Phenotyping, Preclinical Imaging, Bioinformatics and Scientific Computing, Plant Sciences, Protein Technologies and Vienna Drosophila Resource Center. The CSF also oversees the Child Care Center.

The facility operates A) greenhouses for low cost plant growth, when temperature or humidity conditions have to correspond to pre-set values with only limited precision, B) growth incubators for small-scale experiments under non-standard conditions with precise control of humidity and temperature conditions, and C) tissue culture rooms for growth of petri dishes and sterile in vitro cultures under standard conditions optimized for Arabidopsis. It complements the CSF-operated growth chambers (CSF Plant Sciences Facility).




ducation & Training One of MFPL’s biggest assets is our focus on the education and training of young scientists. The MFPL provide an exciting scientific environment for Master students, PhDs and Postdocs in an outstanding international community at the Vienna Biocenter (VBC). Find out more about education and training at MFPL on our website:

As part of the Vienna Biocenter (VBC), MFPL enables students to participate in high quality research in an academic environment and to establish connections with nearby companies and institutes.

sciences take place on the premises of the MFPL. Over 460m2 of teaching lab space offer well equipped, state-of-the-art training workspaces for undergraduate students.

Studies at the University of Vienna: • Bachelor of Biology • Masters of Molecular Microbiology, Microbial Ecology and Immunobiology • Masters of Molecular Biology • Masters of Genetics and Developmental Biology • PhD in Molecular Biology

A number of our research groups participate in the Vienna Biocenter Summer School, which offers 12-week courses for undergraduate students during the summer months. Working side by side with our scientists, students get insights into world-class research and prepare for graduate studies in Molecular or Cell Biology.

Studies at the Medical University of Vienna: • Diploma in Human Medicine • Masters of Medical Informatics • PhD in Medical Science

Student Service Center

Undergraduate Studies and Teaching MFPL scientists participate in the undergraduate curricula for students of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. In 2014, they invested around 1,200 hours to educate and inspire new generations of scientists. Most of the practical courses for the studies of molecular life


VBC Summer School

The Student Service Center provides information about the study programs of the University of Vienna at the MFPL, helps students and teachers with administrative procedures and organizes all teaching affairs from the scheduling of lectures to the awarding of degrees. SSC TEAM

Barbara Hamilton (Head) Angela Witte (Deputy Head) Renate Fauland


The MFPL PhD Program The MFPL are strongly committed to provide interdisciplinary training and research opportunities for PhD students in a highly attractive and inspiring research environment. Our mission is to educate talented PhD students to become excellent researchers with a competitive professional profile, by fostering independence, inquisitive thinking and scientific rigor. The MFPL are currently home to 140 PhD students from 39 countries who pursue their research in the open, collaborative environment of the Vienna Biocenter (VBC). PhD students are recruited via a structured selection and interview process, usually held twice per year. They have a primary affiliation with one of the participating research groups, and are enrolled as graduate students at the University of Vienna or the Medical University of Vienna. All MFPL PhD students receive a competitive salary conforming to the guidelines of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Additionally, the MFPL participate in the Biocenter-wide VBC PhD Program which includes our neighboring research institutes IMP, IMBA and GMI.



Gerlinde Aschauer PhD Community The 140 PhD students from all over the world form an active community at the MFPL. Their elected representatives organize professional as well as social activities and make their voices heard in MFPLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision bodies. PHD REPRESENTATIVES IN 2014

Florian Ebner Freia von RauĂ&#x;endorf



Doctoral Programs at the MFPL The MFPL are proud to host four Doctoral Programs reviewed and funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). • Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Signaling • Structure and Interaction of Biological Macromolecules • Chromosome Dynamics • RNA Biology Each of these programs involves several of our research groups and offers a specific curriculum fitting its scientific focus. More information about the these programs can be found on our website:

Molecular Mechanisms of Cell Signaling Cells manage to survive, proliferate, and differentiate in their environment by interpreting the signals they receive from it and translating them into the right output. If signaling goes awry, even only in part of the cells, the whole organism is at risk. The MFPL are home to a strong group of scientists whose common long-term research goal is to investigate and understand signal transduction mechanisms in a variety of cell-based and organismal systems. The program offers structured, state-of-the-art training in signal transduction and competitive PhD projects that combine biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics to study cell signaling in different model organisms. From organisms to cells to molecules – MMCS groups investigate signaling at different levels.


Manuela Baccarini PROGRAM MANAGER

Elena Rodionova

Structure and Interaction of Biological Macromolecules The determination of a biological structure is the starting point for understanding how macromolecules work and how they interact with their binding partners. The doctoral program was created to examine the central themes of the thematic framework in co-operation of scientists from MFPL, IMP and IMBA. Projects within the doctoral program cover a comprehensive range of research areas introducing state-of-the-art techniques, methodology and theory to the PhD students. They are being guided by a supervisor and a PhD committee, a scheme that will ensure an intensive contact and exchange of ideas between the students and the faculty members. SPEAKER

Tim Skern


Interaction of a common cold virus pentamer (blue, green and yellow) with a fragment of a cellular receptor, the low density lipoprotein receptor (red).


Chromosome Dynamics The maintenance of genetic information and its faithful transmission from one generation to the next crucially depends on intact chromosomes. Failure to protect DNA from deterioration, impaired DNA repair or missegregation of chromosomes during cell division seriously compromises the fitness of any organism. Understanding the molecular basis of chromosome maintenance and dynamics is therefore essential for human health and fertility, industrial and food production, and plant breeding. Projects within the graduate program cover a wide range of aspects of chromosome dynamics, from actual chromosome movements, to DNA recombination or chromatin reorganization. The doctoral program established platforms for teaching, seminars and retreats that ensure intellectual exchange, sharing of experiences and techniques. Special workshops, with an emphasis on subjects important for scientific work not necessarily specific to the individual research topics, complete the training. The goal is to raise young, enthusiastic, but also critical researchers, with a profound education in chromosome biology. SPEAKER

Peter Schlögelhofer PROGRAM MANAGER

Marie-Therese Kurzbauer

RNA Biology The RNA Biology Network brings together 20 research groups from the MFPL, the Medical University of Vienna, the University of Vienna, CeMM, IMBA, IMP and GMI, and provides a focused PhD training in the world of RNAs – covering the areas structure & folding, translation, transcriptomics & bioinformatics, regulatory RNAs, RNA processing & transport, epigenetics & gene expression. Students are given the opportunity to embark on a scientific adventure and profit from this network by getting excellent advice from researchers of various RNA fields. They are also integrated into the Special Research Program on “RNA Regulation of the Transcriptome”. After a successful evaluation the doctoral program “RNA Biology” was extended for the third time until 2016. SPEAKER


Nicola Wiskocil Nano-model of a meiotic chromosome. Pairs of sister-loops protrude from a common axis. Axis based robot arms symbolize the DNA-cleavage machinery, the right one with a piece of cleaved DNA. The interaction between axis and loop sequences is very important to make repair work for pairing and chromosome segregation.



VIPS - Vienna International Postdoctoral Program

Since 2010, the MFPL host the Vienna International Postdoctoral Program for Molecular Life Sciences (VIPS), a pioneering program promoting outstanding young researchers. With support from the Austrian Government and the City of Vienna, VIPS aims to reinvent the Postdoc career. VIPS offers a three-year Postdoctoral fellowship at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories, including an individual research budget and travel money, which is at the free disposal of the fellow.

VIPS Fellows Between 2010 and 2013, 18 Postdocs were selected to join the program, and have since started their fellowship. Stephanie Bannister – Group Florian Raible Gustavo Bezerra – Group Alwin Köhler Thorsten Brach – Group Claudine Kraft Nicola Cavallari – Group Andrea Barta David Cisneros Armas – Group Alipasha Vaziri Marcus Dekens – Group Kristin Tessmar-Raible Jeroen Dobbelaere – Group Alexander Dammermann Angela Hancock – Group Joachim Hermisson Tobias Kaiser – Group Kristin Tessmar-Raible Elzbieta Kowalska – Group Christina Waldsich Maxim Molodtsov – Group Alipasha Vaziri Susanne Pfeifer – Group Arndt von Haeseler Robert Prevedel – Group Alipasha Vaziri Roger Revilla-i-Domingo – Group Florian Raible Ana Catarina Ribeiro Carrão – Group Roland Foisner Jusytna Sawa-Makarska – Group Sascha Martens Petronela Weisová – Group Friedrich Propst

VIPS associated Postdocs Brooke Morriswood – Group Graham Warren Nicolas Coudevylle – Group Robert Konrat Teresa Cvetkov – Group Thomas Leonard Marlene Jagut – Group Verena Jantsch Meghan Lybecker – Group Renée Schroeder

Career Development for Postgraduates As well as Postdoc positions, VIPS offers a wide range of career development activities and training not only for the VIPS Postdocs but also for all postgraduates at MFPL: • Mentoring and coaching • Project management and leadership • Communication and presentation • Publication writing • Time management • Grant writing VIPS SCIENTIFIC COORDINATOR



Botond Cseh Stephanie Bannister




cience is about making connections

Research is a profession dependent on collaboration and intellectual exchange. At the Vienna Biocenter (VBC), scientific exchange is an intrinsic quality of the strong interconnections between all the institutions, basic research centers and companies alike. Regular seminar series are organized by all VBC-members, VBC-wide as well as intra-institutional. The weekly VBC Seminar Series serves as a platform for scientists from the VBC to exchange ideas and discuss their research.

MFPL Regular Seminars The weekly MFPL Faculty Lunches serve as a platform for group leaders to present their work in a chalk board talk to other faculty members and discuss new ideas and directions for their groups. In addition, there are also thematically focused seminar series, like the seminar series “Modern Concepts in Structural Biology”.


VBC PhD Symposium 2014 The scientific exchange between the PhD students at the Vienna Biocenter bears fruit each autumn in the form of a PhD symposium. The symposium intended to widen students’ perspectives by exploring a topic not closely related to current VBC research. It is organized by students for students and succeeds every year in attracting leading international speakers to share their insights with our young researchers. 2014’s event entitled “Complexity of Life” included sessions on the different levels of complexity present in biology – from single cells and cell populations over organisms to ecosystems. Each year, at the end of the symposium outstanding PhD theses are rewarded with a VBC PhD award. This year the awards went to Cornelia Vesely (M Jantsch lab, MFPL), Juliane Zantke (Tessmar-Raible lab, MFPL), Martin Mikl (Cowan lab, IMP), Jorge Omar Yanez Cuna (Stark lab, IMP) and Elif Eroglu (Knoblich lab, IMBA).

The MFPL Postdoc community is part of the larger Vienna Area Postdoc Association (VAPA) that represents the institutes at the Vienna Biocenter (GMI, IMBA, IMP and MFPL) as well as CEMM and ISTA. The aim of VAPA is to provide a platform for all Postdocs in Vienna to develop their scientific careers and use the Postdoc network for their benefit. VAPA is organizing regularly workshops, Postdoc days and a yearly VAPA Postdoc retreat.

PhD and Postdoc Retreat 2014 The retreat provides MFPL PhD students and Postdocs with the opportunity to present their research to colleagues and invited guests during talk and poster sessions and to build peer networks across the institute. The two-day event took place in Sankt Ruprecht an der Raab, Styria, and revolved around the question “Science: what have you done for us?”. Answers to that question were not only given by the PhD students and Postdocs, but also by the invited speakers, wildlife biologist Joana Bernardino and Bradley John Till, who leads the Genomics and Reverse-Genetics Group of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory of the FAO/IAEA Joint Program in Seibersdorf, Lower Austria.

VBC PhD award winners 2014: Cornelia Vesely, Juliane Zantke, Jürgen Knoblich (on behalf of Elif Eroglu), Alexander Stark (on behalf of Jorge Omar Yanez Cuna), Martin Mikl (f.l.t.r.). Participants of the PhD and Postdoc Retreat 2014.




FPL Life

To make sure that the scientists can relax and recharge their batteries, the Max F. Perutz Laboratories offer a wide variety of social activities. Happy Hours Happy Hours are institute-wide get-togethers for which MFPL sponsors food and drinks, offering a unique chance to break the daily routine and get to know colleagues on a different level than at the bench or in a seminar. The theme of the Happy Hour is chosen by the organizing research group, giving free rein to their creativity. 2014 saw parties with themes such as “Carnival”, “Outlaw Happy Hour”, “Halloween” and “Mövember Heavy Hour”.

The Vienna Biocenter Amateur Drama Club (VBC-ADC) Since 2010, a group of theatre aficionados under the lead of Brooke Morriswood, a Postdoc in the lab of Graham Warren, delight the VBC audience with their performances. This year’s summer production was Oscar Wilde’s 1895 classic “The Importance of Being Earnest”. For the annual Christmas play, the VBC-ADC performed an adapted version of “Hansel & Gretel”, with the titular pair reimagined as PhD students thrust into a terrifying and unfamiliar forest in which they battled to retain their faith in science.

Carnival Happy Hour

MFPL Sports To offer researchers a convenient way to fit sports activities into their busy schedule, as well as socializing and teambuilding with colleagues, several MFPL sports clubs exist. This includes a variety of regular trainings for running, Zumba and soccer. Apart from that, the MFPL also organize special sport events such as the MFPL ski trip or the participation in the Vienna Dragonboat Cup, the Vienna City Marathon and the Cancer Research Run.

The MFPL-GMI Dragonboat Race team “VBC Allies Yacht Club”. The MFPL “Science Soccer Cup” team.

ADC summer performance “The Importance of Being Earnest”.



he MFPL wish to thank the following institutions for financial support of research projects:

Parent Institutions

Medical University of Vienna

University of Vienna

Funding Organizations and Programs

Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy

Austrian Research Promotion Agency

City of Vienna

Austrian Science Fund

Human Frontier Science Program

Austrian Academy of Sciences

Research Executive Agency (REA, EU)

Umm Al-Qura University

World AntiDoping Agency

German Research Foundation

Herzfelder Stiftung

Progeria Research Foundation

Vienna Science and Technology Fund

Impressum Published by Max F. Perutz Laboratories GmbH Editors Lilly Sommer Ulrike Keller contributions from MFPL researchers Pictures MFPL staff and scientists Daniel Hinterramskogler Point of View Barbara Mair Print

European Research Council

European Molecular Biology Organization

MAX F. PERUTZ LABORATORIES Vienna Biocenter (VBC) Dr. Bohr-Gasse 9 1030 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 4277 24001 Fax: +43 1 4277 9240

MFPL at a glance 2014  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you