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In the Cluster of Excellence Frankfurt (CEF) international teams of scientists investigate the structure and function of large macromolecular complexes, in particular membrane proteins and their assemblies, complexes involved in signal transduction and quality control and RNA-protein complexes. The Cluster has added new methods to Frankfurt’s strong expertise in structural biology, especially advanced light microscopy, electron tomography and chemical photobiology. A number of important structures has been determined during the first funding phase of CEF (CEF-I, 2006-2012), including the largest complex of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, complex I. Unexpected and novel signal transduction pathways as a result of ubiquitylation have been unraveled, and the regulatory roles of RNA and RNA-protein complexes have been deciphered. Another major achievement was the implementation of optogenetics and light-triggered regulation of macromolecular complexes. On the Riedberg Science Campus of the Goethe University Frankfurt, CEF promotes coherent and inter-disciplinary research. For Principal Investigators newly recruited to Frankfurt, CEF founded and built the Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS), completed in 2011.

With the start of the new funding phase (CEF-II, start November 2012) the research focus of CEF is further extended to the investigation of function and dysfunction of cells and organelles, as well as the functional and structural dynamics of macromolecular complexes. Based on the detailed insights gained during the first funding period, the Cluster scientists will design, engineer and utilize macromolecular complexes in the context of new biochemical applications in cells and organisms.