Welcome to the division of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology

Our research at the LIMES Institute (2009-2017) was directed at the biological function of connexin proteins which form intercellular channels between contacting cells or hemichannels in the plasmamembrane for diffusional exchange of metabolites and ions. The connexin gene family includes 20 genes in the mouse and 21 largely homologous genes in the human genome. Connexin proteins are cell type specifically expressed - with overlapping specificity. We have studied many different connexin mutants with functional abnormalities in several mouse tissues for example heart, brain, inner ear, retina, skin, skeletal muscle etc. Furthermore we have generated “mouse models” which harbor point mutations in connexin genes  taken from patients  suffering from different genetic diseases.
In addition we have generated and characterized several mouse mutants which lack expression of different ceramide synthases or the sphingomyelin synthase related protein SMSr.  Ceramide synthases produce ceramides of different acyl chain length that are components of complex sphingolipids on the cell surface. The products of ceramide synthases affect  transcription of distinct target genes.