Helmholtz Professorship Cell Biology
Prof. Dr. Werner W. Franke
Most cells have a cytoskeleton - a protein scaffold that gives the cell its shape and supports it. It is composed of protein fibers which are arranged as networks within the cells and can also connect these among each other via intermediate attachment sites to form a tissue. The molecular characteristics of the cytoskeleton can tell us a lot about the differentiation state of a cell, i.e., which cell type it belongs to and how far it has gotten in its development. In this way it is possible to distinguish cancer cells from normal cells, no matter what these cells look like or where they occur. Research at our divisions is focused on the molecular characterization and functional analysis of cytoskeleton and cell connection structures in normal and transformed cells. The goal is to use the results for establishing new ways to classify cells and tumors. Some of these are already being applied in diagnostics.