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CSSB Welcomes Charlotte Uetrecht

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On October 1, 2021, Prof. Charlotte Uetrecht begins working at the Centre for Structural Systems Biology, CSSB. Prof. Uetrecht has a joint appointment from the University of Siegen, where she is a W2 professor of Biochemistry and the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI). Prof. Uetrecht’s group is affiliated with the European XFEL and the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) and located at the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld. She leads a team of scientists that will investigate the structural dynamics of viral protein complexes.

At CSSB, Uetrecht’s group will focus on understanding both the assembly of norovirus particles and replication complexes of coronaviruses. “The molecular machinery involved in the viral lifecycle is extremely dynamic,” explains Uetrecht “we are particularly interested in capturing short-lived or transient states that cannot be purified.” To capture these transient states, the group uses state-of-the-art structural mass spectrometry (MS), an analytical technique that measures the mass -to-charge ratio of ions, and is able to identify how individual proteins shuttle between larger molecular structures.

Uetrecht is also involved in the development of MS techniques to improve structural resolution and to enable single molecule imaging. The MS sample purification techniques being developed by Uetrecht’s group will enable researchers to identify and send transient states selected based on their mass or shape into X-ray free-electron lasers for imaging. Uetrecht will use this method herself to understand how the viral capsid structure is altered and determined throughout the norovirus lifecycle.

“We are excited to welcome Prof. Uetrecht to CSSB,” notes CSSB’s Scientific Director Chris Meier “Her expertise in mass spectrometry complements the existing imaging techniques already available at CSSB and will help strengthen CSSB’s ability to unveil the molecular mechanisms of infectious pathogens.”  Uetrecht has been an associate member of CSSB since early 2020 and is already involved in several collaborative research projects with other group leaders. The Uetrecht group is also part of the Leibniz ScienceCampus InterACt.

After completing her doctorate in Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Prof. Uetrecht went on to Uppsala University in Sweden and then joined the European XFEL in Germany. She recently spent several years as a junior group leader at the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI).