Biochemistry (M.Sc.)

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Membrane Trafficking and Organelle Biogenesis

Cell homeostasis, differentiation and development rely on the delivery of important receptors and signaling molecules to the correct intracellular and plasma membrane destinations through the secretory pathway. Despite decades of investigation we are still far from having a complete and exhaustive understanding of how transport is coordinated. In the course of your Master’s studies you will learn about current investigations aimed at elucidating the mechanisms of membrane trafficking and organelle biogenesis. Typical questions you will come across are:

  • Which methods would you use to investigate the role of a putative and so far poorly characterized component of the molecular machinery involved in secretion?
  • How do the various organelles along the secretory pathway exchange material without losing their identity? And how is membrane homeostasis maintained?
  • In a genomic screen you have identified an unknown gene. You suspect it to encode a transmembrane protein. What would you expect to find in the sequence if this is the case?
  • In your analysis you also find the amino acid sequence K-K-X-X in the cytosolic domain of this protein. What mechanism is activated by this signal and what is the result?
  • Please describe the sequence of events and major players in the translation of a typical transmembrane protein.
  • Describe the key steps in clathrin-mediated endocytosis and what kind of molecules are involved in them.