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Let There Be Light: Freiburg Researchers Discover New Technology for
30 April 2010 10:25 Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
The reading of genes and the related procedure of producing cellular protein molecules are essential for the
correct functioning of every cell. This process is called gene expression and is controlled by special protein
molecules, so-called transcription factors. A change in these molecules is in most cases pathological, leading
to diseases such as cancer. A team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Katja Arndt from the Institute of Biology III
of the University of Freiburg has succeeded in constructing small protein fragments which can block the
incorrectly regulated gene expression. In collaboration with a team headed by Andrew Woolley, professor at
the University of Toronto, the scientists developed a mechanism which allows these inhibitors to be switched
on and off like a light switch.
The findings have now been published in the leading journal "Angewandte Chemie," whose editors have
classified it as a "hot paper" due to its great significance for a rapidly developing area of research. The
project was funded by the DAAD, the University of Freiburg's excellence cluster BIOSS (Centre for Biological
Signalling Studies), and the FRIAS School of Life Sciences LifeNet.
The study described in the publication combines two independent developments: inhibitors constructed by
Katja Arndt which regulate oncogenes (cancer genes), and chemical adapter molecules developed by
Andrew Woolley's research group which can appear in two structural states depending on their wavelength.