Ageing leads to impairment of tissue homeostasis and functional decline of organs and represents a main risk factor for prevalent diseases such as cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration in developed countries. To devise therapies aimed at improving the health state of the elderly, a detailed knowledge of molecular mechanisms leading to the impairment of organ function with increasing age is essential. There is accumulating evidence that posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of proteins contribute to this decline.
PTMs occur either enzymatically catalysed or non-enzymatically, with both types often targeting the same amino acid. Under physiological conditions enzymatic PTMs regulate protein activities, thereby controlling shape and function of cells. However, due to alterations of modifying enzymes or because of an altered cellular environment in aged organisms, PTM patterns may change, and, moreover, non-enzymatic modifications, such as oxidation, may compete with enzymatically regulated processes, such as acetylation and glycosylation. As a consequence, dysregulation of cellular processes occurs.
The aim of the Research Training Group (RTG) is to investigate PTMs of cellular proteins as key players in age progression. Scientists from the universities of Halle and Jena as well as from the Leibniz Institute of Age Research Jena combine their expertise from various fields of chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, biomedicine and “omics”-based technologies to characterise PTM-mediated mechanisms of functional decline during ageing.
In particular, the influence of PTMs on ageing-relevant signalling proteins and epigenetic and transcriptional regulation will be investigated. The scientific programme constitutes an excellent background to qualify young scientists for a future career in interdisciplinary ageing research from basic chemistry to medicine. The RTG provides an innovative qualification programme including state-of-the-art methodological platforms and high-quality training in theoretical and practical aspects of ageing research with a focus on PTMs.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Simm
Clinic for Heart Surgery,
University Hospital Halle,
Ernst-Grube Str. 40,
Phone: +49 (0) 345-557 2647