At the Institute of Physiology, Prof. Bernd Fakler heads a multi-disciplinary team of scientists with expertise in biochemistry, molecular biology, electrophysiology, mass spectrometry, structural biology and bioinformatics.
Our central goal is comprehensive understanding of organization and operation of rapid signal transduction and information processing at the plasma membrane of excitable cells under normal and pathophysiological conditions.
Perception and processing of biological information is mediated through rapid signal transduction processes at the plasma membrane of almost any type of cell – mostly through ion channels (controlled by transmembrane voltage and/or ligands) and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). It is our long-standing interest to achieve profound insights into
- how these proteins work
- how they are organized at the plasma membrane
- how they realize the enormous specificity of their signaling in both time and space and
- how their signaling is endowed with activity-dependent "dynamics" required for adaptation and formation of memory.
Our "functional proteomics" approach provided the first general insights into the principles behind organization and operation of signal transduction at the plasma membrane. Accordingly, ion channels and GPCRs appear to be set up as protein complexes, signaling super-complexes or protein networks.
We use a broad range of techniques in a highly interactive manner to unravel the molecular composition of such protein arrangements, to investigate the dynamics of their assembly and to finally understand their function and significance for rapid signaling in neurons and other excitable cells.