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Newsletter 15

The first half of 2021 was a very busy one here at CSSB. Several CSSB researchers have received funding to start exciting, collaborative projects focused on new research questions as well as method development.

Our recent research highlights include new insights into severe malaria in adults, high resolution structures of the type III and VII secretion systems, the discovery of nanobodies that block SARS-CoV-2 and much more.

Wishing everyone a fun and relaxing summer. Enjoy the sunshine and stay healthy!


IMAGE: Ferreira/Filarsky

CSSB funds flagship project PLASMOFRACTION

CSSB Director's funds have recently been awarded to an ambitious flagship project called PLASMOFRACTION which will use a bottom-up structural systems biology approach to investigate membrane protein complexes in the transmissible gametocyte stages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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IMAGE: Tim Laugks

CSSB's cryo-EM facility part of CUI funded JETFREEZING project

The Cluster of Excellence "CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter" has recently awarded funds to the innovative, collaborative project JETFREEZING. The project will use a novel approach to time-resolved cryo-EM imaging by combining XFEL based sample delivery technologies with plunge freezing which ultimately seeks to investigate infectious processes at timescales of fractions of a microsecond.

IMAGE: Kinga Lubowiecka/EMBL

CSSB and EMBL Hamburg facilities are a key member of a new pan-European consortium

The Protein Characterisation (PC) and High-Throughput Crystallization (HTX) facilities at CSSB and EMBL Hamburg are founding members of the Molecular-Scale Biophysics Research Infrastructure (MOSBRI). Within this new European initiative, the facilities will offer services related to membrane proteins, protein complexes, and time-resolved experiments to non-expert users.

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Virtual SAB Meeting

From 26-27 January 2021, the CSSB held its first virtual Scientific Advisory Board meeting. During the two-day meeting, the SAB members heard presentations from new CSSB group leaders as well as early career researchers. The SAB also carried out discussions with different staff groups at CSSB.


Next CSSB Seminar on 12 August

On 12 August 2021, Tristan Croll from Cambridge Institute for Medical Research will give a CSSB Seminar. All are welcome to attend!

IMAGE: Gilberger/ Ferreira/ Wunderlich


The 3rd CSSB International Symposium has once again been postponed due to the corona virus pandemic. A new date for 2022 will be communicated as soon as possible.


IMAGE: CDC/ James Gathany

Severe malaria in adults

A cross-institutional research group led by Dr. Anna Bachmann in the Department of Cellular Parasitology at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) has now been able to analyse the malaria cases of 32 adults who suffered from varying degrees of malaria. The researchers found important differences between children and adults in the binding of malaria-infected red blood cells to the blood vessel walls.

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IMAGE: Aleksandra Krolik/EMBL

Reshaping the cell membrane with molecular pegs

Researchers at EMBL Hamburg and CSSB's Protein Characterisation facility reveal how peg-like proteins clasp and reshape the cell membrane. In a recent study, the Garcia Alai team and collaborators used single particle cryo-electron microscopy to solve a part of this puzzle by determining the molecular structure of the protein anchors.

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IMAGE: Marlovits Lab

Structure of Type VII Secretion System Revealed

In a new study, published in Nature, CSSB researchers and international collaborators reveal new insights into the structure of type VII secretion systems from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Type VII secretion systems are molecular machines that play key roles in the infection cycle of many pathogenic mycobacteria, including the notorious Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A deeper understanding of the structure and function of these systems can enable the development of novel therapies for the treatment of tuberculosis.

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IMAGE: Modified from Silvester et al, 2021

DNA Origami Signposts

Researchers from CSSB's Grünewald group (HPI / UHH) in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford, recently developed a method to pinpoint individual protein structures using DNA origami nanostructures and electron cryotomography (cryo-ET).

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IMAGE: Thomas C Marlovits

CSSB Scientistis Reveal High Resolution Injectisome

The Marlovits group has revealed the first high resolution structure of an active, substrate-engaged bacterial type-III secretion system. The research study, published in Nature Communications, provides molecular insights into the structure and function of the translocation process which is fundamental to the virulence of many pathogenic bacteria.

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IMAGE: Hrishikesh Das, Karolinska Institutet

Multivalent nanobodies block SARS-CoV-2 infection

An international group of scientists including CSSB Research Hotel's Martin Hällberg (Karolinska Institutet) have identified a combination of nanobodies that not only block SARS-CoV-2 infection but also suppress the escape of viral mutations. These multivalent nanobodies could be used to develop additional therapeutic modalities against COVID-19. The findings were published in the renowned journal Science.

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Contact Information

Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB)
c/o DESY, Building 15
Notkestr. 85
22607 Hamburg
E-mail: info@cssb-hamburg.de

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