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Christian Münch joins SFB 1177 as project leader

11th Jul 2018
Recently, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved Christian Münch’s supplementary proposal to study Mitophagy induction by the mitochondrial unfolded protein response within the framework of SFB 1177. Protein misfolding in mitochondria has been associated with numerous diseases, including neurodegeneration and cancer, and leads to activation of a mitochondrial stress response – the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt). For the next two years, Christian Münch will address the role of mitophagy induction by the UPRmt to resolve mitochondrial protein folding defects.

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Stefan Knapp elected as EMBO member

14th May 2018
The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announces the list of 62 scientists who were elected as members in 2018. Amongst them is Prof. Stefan Knapp, project leader within SFB 1177, therewith joining "a group of more than 1800 of the best researchers in Europe and around the world“, as EMBO states.

EMBO press release Link
EMBO profile of Stefan Knapp Link

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Registration still open: 30th ENCP Congress, September 2nd - 5th, 2017, Paris, France

Symposium on Neuronal Autophagy
SFB 1177 vice speaker Christian Behl will be chairing the symposium „Neuronal autophagy: Concepts and treatment options“ at the 30th ENCP Congress (September 2nd - 5th, 2017, Paris, France).
Registration details and more information
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Fluorescence-based sensors for specifically monitoring autophagy

6th February 2017
Autophagy is a cellular recycling and quality control pathway that is essential for maintaining cellular metabolism and homeostasis. Its malfunction contributes e.g. to neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
Ubiquitin-like ATG8 proteins constitute central components of the autophagic machinery. However, until today, it is not completely clear why yeast harbors only one ATG8 protein while human cells contain six mammalian ATG8 orthologs, classified into the LC3 and GABARAP subfamilies. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining phage display with additional functional biochemical assays as well as cellular biology, the laboratories of Ivan Dikic and Andreas Ernst now engineered a valuable tool for studying specific functions of LC3 and GABARAP proteins. They developed fluorescence-based sensors that are able to discriminate between the six different members of the mammalian ATG8 protein family and track their actions within cells. As first application, the scientists successfully monitored the involvement of LC3C in selective autophagy of mitochondria (mitophagy) and Salmonella (xenophagy). The joint effort of the Dikic and Ernst groups has been published recently in EMBO Journal and will be helpful in decoding biological functions of individual LC3/GABARAP proteins.
Link to publication.
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New ubiquitin chemistry regulates life processes

1st December 2016
In the latest issue of Cell, a team around IBC2 director and SFB 1177 speaker Ivan Dikic reveals molecular details of a novel ubiquitination mechanism that may affect numerous life processes. Earlier this year, U.S. colleagues reported that Legionella enzyme SdeA is capable of catalysing ubiquitination single-handedly. Now, the Frankfurt scientists together with collaborators from the MPI for Biology of Ageing (Cologne) have elucidated the chemistry behind and discovered a hitherto unknown type of linkage between ubiquitin and target proteins. Unlike the conventional ubiquitination reaction, the novel one is NAD-dependent, involving an ADP-ribose intermediate and resulting in the attachment of ubiquitin to substrate serine residues via a phosphodiester bond.
While those findings alone are breaking new ground, the discovery went even further: The team showed that the Legionella enzyme does not only transfer ubiquitin onto target proteins, but also leaves behind a complete pool of chemically modified, phosphoribosylated ubiquitin. Phosphoribosylated ubiquitin almost completely inhibits the conventional ubiquitination system and thereby affects essential cellular processes, e.g. proteasomal protein degradation, mitophagy and pro-inflammatory signalling. This explains the pathogenic effects of Legionella infection in immunocompromised patients, who often suffer from extensive lung tissue damage despite antibiotic treatment. The insight generated by the Dikic team may now open the road to the development of new antibacterial agents, which could complement conventional antibiotics by limiting the cellular damage induced by bacterial enzymes.
Link to Cell paper.
Link to German press release.
Link to English press release.
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International marketing concept of UBAUT networks receives DFG award

1st December 2016
As the German Research Foundation (DFG) announced today, Goethe University (GU) is one of the winners of the 2016 Competition for International Research Marketing Ideas. The awarded concept “Let’s talk about UBAUT” was initiated by SFB 1177 on Autophagy (http://www.sfb1177.de), LOEWE Ub-Net (LINK TO http://www.proloewe.de/ubnet) and IBC2, and in collaboration with GU’s Departments for Internationalization and Marketing and Communication. The prize is awarded with 100,000 €, enabling the ubiquitin and autophagy networks now to implement a wide range of marketing measures for increasing their international visibility and attract highly qualified international colleagues to the Rhine Main biomedical research area. The program follows a ‘bottom-up’ approach which will be driven by LOEWE Ub-Net and SFB 1177 scientists. It comprises ambassador visits to renowned research institutions in the US as well as short stipends for international scientists wishing to pursue a career in Germany and a strategy outreach meeting.
Link to DFG press release.
Link to GU press release.
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Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2016 for autophagy researcher: Congratulations to Yoshinori Ohsumi

3rd October 2016
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet decided today that the 2016 Prize is awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy. The Japanese scientist is considered as the founding father of autophagy research: He identified the first autophagy genes in yeast, elucidated the underlying mechanisms and showed that a similar sophisticated machinery exists in human cells. Ohsumi holds a professorship at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. He is the only Laureate receiving the prize this year, underlining the significance and breakthrough character of his discoveries. The announcement came as fantastic news for the entire field of autophagy research, and the SFB 1177 consortium sends sincerest congratulations to Yoshinori Ohsumi.
Link to the Nobel Academy Press Release
Link to ZDF heute journal report including statement from SFB 1177 member Simone Fulda


SFB 1177 practical course on autophagy

August 2016
The practical course on autophagy, organized by SFB 1177 group leaders Christian Behrends and Christian Pohl, conveyed hands-on experience in autophagy research. In five days, the participants employed biochemical and cell biological assays to study the autophagy pathway and expanded their knowledge on model organisms such as C. elegans as well as on technologies like mass spectrometry and gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9. Daily lectures by senior scientists and group leaders complemented the practical focus of the workshop. By presenting their own preliminary data, both PhD students and Postdocs gained valuable insights into the currently running projects within SFB 1177, sowing the seeds for new collaborations amongst the members of the SFB graduate school. Thanks to all participants for creating a highly supportive and interactive atmosphere fostering the exchange of many experiences and advices!
More info


Frankfurt Conference on Ubiquitin and Autophagy – thanks to all speakers and participants

8th July 2016
From July 4th to 7th, 2016, leading experts in Ubiquitin and Autophagy research from around the world were brought together at Goethe University’s Medical Campus for the first Frankfurt Conference on Ubiquitin and Autophagy, jointly organized by the Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes, the DKTK site Frankfurt/Mainz, the LOEWE program Ub-Net and SFB 1177. Since the ubiquitin system and autophagy are essential for maintaining cellular integrity and homeostasis, and defects in the two quality control systems are involved in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, the meeting put emphasis on gaining a more global view on cellular quality control mechanisms, their interconnectivities as well as on exploiting the potential for therapeutic interventions. More than 300 scientists from 12 countries attended the meeting and almost 50 talks in five interdisciplinary sessions covered a broad range of topics from the discovery of basic molecular mechanisms to translation into clinical applications. Moreover, the contribution by early career researchers in vivid discussions and more than 110 poster presentations was overwhelming, as was the quality of the work presented. Coffee breaks, welcome reception and a farewell barbecue at Goethe University’s Westend Campus with a view on the impressive Frankfurt skyline fostered the exchange and interaction amongst the participants giving rise to new ideas, collaborations and insights. The organizers would like to thank all speakers and participants for their active and valuable contribution to the meeting and look forward to the next Frankfurt Conference in 2018.

Interested in Alzheimer’s - register here: "Beyond Amyloid - Widening the View on Alzheimer's Disease“

Herrenhausen Symposium, October 10 & 11 in Hanover, Germany.
Hosted as a Herrenhausen Symposium by the Volkswagen Foundation the meeting aims at bringing together current knowledge on molecular and cellular processes that contribute to AD pathogenesis beyond the so far dominating amyloid hypothesis and at fostering discussion on future perspectives in AD research. Topics to be covered include inflammation, vascular dysfunction, mitochondrial integrity, cell cycle events, lipid metabolism, tau biochemistry, protein misfolding and autophagy. There are no fees to attend the symposium but registration is required.
More info
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Registration open now – Frankfurt Conference on Ubiquitin and Autophagy, July 4-7, 2016

January 2016
Together with the Cluster of Excellence Macromolecular Complexes, the SFB 1177, and the DKTK Frankfurt, LOEWE Ub-Net is organizing the first Frankfurt Conference on Ubiquitin and Autophagy in July 2016. Both the ubiquitin system and autophagy are essential for maintaining cellular integrity and homeostasis. Defects in the two quality control systems are involved in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases. The conference brings together leading experts in this field. Further information and registration here.
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DFG funds autophagy research network

20th Nov 2015
Scientists from Frankfurt and Mainz have successfully applied for funding to establish a Collaborative Research Centre (CRC)/Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) on the molecular mechanisms of selective autophagy. Autophagy literally means „self-eating“ and describes a process by which the cell recycles harmful ballast like aggregated proteins, damaged organelles or even bacterial invaders. For the next four years, the centre is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with 11 M €. The initiative is led by Ivan Dikic, and is the first large-scale collaborative network in Germany in this highly competitive field.
In the newly established CRC, researchers from the Goethe University, the University Medical Centre in Mainz, the Georg-Speyer-Haus in Frankfurt and the Institute of Molecular Biology in Mainz have teamed up to characterize selective autophagy on the molecular and functional level. This will eventually lead to a better understanding of the role of autophagy in pathophysiology and pave the road for innovative, targeted therapies.
The funding by the DFG will now give a powerful impetus for the network, also strengthening the position of the Rhine Main scientists on the international stage.
Link to German press release.




Interview with Christian Behrends, project leader in SFB 1177

October 2016

Journal of Cell Science JCS interview



Kern A, Spang N, Huesmann H, Behl C (2018). Novel Modulators of Proteostasis: RNAi Screen of Chromosome I in a Heat Stress Paradigm in C. elegansCells. 2018 May 26;7(6).

Harwardt MLIE, Dietz MS, Heilemann M, Wohland T (2018).  SPT and Imaging FCS Provide Complementary Information on the Dynamics of Plasma Membrane Molecules. Biophysical Journal. Apr 9. pii: S0006-3495(18)30351-5.



Knuppertz L, Osiewacz HD (2017). Autophagy compensates impaired energy metabolism in CLPXP-deficient Podospora anserina strains and extends healthspan. Aging Cell 16: 704-715.


Warnsmann V, Meyer N, Hamann A, Kögel D, Osiewacz HD (2017). A novel role of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore in (-)-gossypol-induced mitochondrial dysfunction. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development. 2017 Jul 3. pii: S0047-6374(17)30048-9.


Knuppertz L, Warnsmann V, Hamann A, Grimm C, Osiewacz HD (2017). Stress-dependent opposing roles for mitophagy in aging of the ascomycete Podospora anserinaAutophagy. 2017 Jun 3;13(6):1037-1052.


Philipp O, Hamann A, Osiewacz HD, Koch I (2017). The autophagy interaction network of the aging model Podospora anserina. BMC Bioinformatics. 2017 Mar 27;18(1):196.



Warnsmann V, Osiewacz HD (2016). Curcumin treatment affects mitochondrial respiration, induces autophagy and increases lifespan of the fungal aging model Podospora anserina. Endocytobiosis Cell Res 27: 20-26.


Jennewein L, Ronellenfitsch MW, Antonietti P, Ilina EI, Jung J, Stadel D, Flohr LM, Zinke J, von Renesse J, Drott U, Baumgarten P, Braczynski AK, Penski C, Burger MC, Theurillat JP, Steinbach JP, Plate KH, Dikic I, Fulda S, Brandts C, Kögel D, Behrends C, Harter PN, Mittelbronn M (2016). Diagnostic and clinical relevance of the autophago-lysosomal network in human gliomas. Oncotarget. 2016 Apr 12;7(15):20016-32.


Behl C (2016). Breaking BAG: The Co-Chaperone BAG3 in Health and Disease. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Aug;37(8):672-88.


Fiskin E, Bionda T, Dikic I & Behrends C (2016). Global Analysis of Host and Bacterial Ubiquitinome in Response to Salmonella Typhimurium Infection. Mol Cell. 2016 Jun 16;62(6):967-81.


Jennewein L, Ronellenfitsch MW, Antonietti P, Ilina EI, Jung J, Stadel D, Flohr LM, Zinke J, von Renesse J, Drott U, Baumgarten P, Braczynski AK, Penski C, Burger MC, Theurillat JP, Steinbach JP, Plate KH, Dikic I, Fulda S, Brandts C, Kögel D, Behrends C, Harter PN, Mittelbronn M (2016). Diagnostic and clinical relevance of the autophago-lysosomal network in human gliomas. Oncotarget. 2016 Apr 12;7(15):20016-32.


Antonietti P, Gessler F, Düssmann H, Reimertz C, Mittelbronn M, Prehn JH, Kögel D (2016). AT-101 simultaneously triggers apoptosis and a cytoprotective type of autophagy irrespective of expression levels and the subcellular localization of Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 in MCF7 cells. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Apr;1863(4):499-509.


Knuppertz L, Osiewacz HD (2016). Orchestrating the network of molecular pathways affecting aging: Role of nonselective autophagy and mitophagy. Mech Ageing Dev 153: 30-40.