Inside cells, communication between the nucleus, which harbors our precious genetic material, and the cytoplasm is mediated by the constant exchange of thousands of signaling molecules and proteins. Until recently, it was unknown how this protein traffic can be so fast and yet precise enough to prevent the passage of unwanted molecules. Through a combination of computer simulations and various experimental techniques, researchers from the EMBL and the Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies (HITS) have solved this puzzle: A very flexible and disordered protein can bind to its receptor within billionths of a second. Their research, led by Edward Lemke (EMBL), Frauke Gräter (HITS), was published in “Cell”.
This new Youtube clip was produced by the Cluster of Excellence CellNetworks with researchers from EMBL and HITS. The project was funded by Research in Germany/DFG. It shows how the binding of the “floppy key” proteins work.
The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.