(retired since 2005)
- 1967-1969: PhD at the University of Tuebingen
- 1970-1972: PostDoc at the MPI für Virusforschung, Tuebingen
- 1972-1975: PostDoc at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
- 1988 Prof. apl. University of Heidelberg
Am Gutleuthofhang 60
Tel: - 49 - 6221 - 802268
Understanding the biology of a "minimal cell"
We use Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a parasite of the human respiratory tract, as a model organism for defining a "minimal cell" and for studying the interaction of a pathogenic prokaryotic surface parasite with its eucaryotic host cell.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is one of the smallest bacteria known with a cell diameter of about 0.5 mm and a genome size of 816 kbp coding for 687 genes. The annotation of the complete genome sequence made it possible to predict functions for 68% of the genes. This information is sufficient to understand metabolic pathways and the synthesis of macromolecules, but more knowledge is required for understanding the three key processes characterizing all living systems that are metabolism, defined as the sum of all chemical reactions taking place in the cell, reproduction and adaptation. To close this information gap several experimental approaches are presently being taken. They include global expression studies on transcription and translation (proteome), analyses of quantitative changes at the level of gene expression depending on growth condition and studies on the interaction between gene products which either build large enzyme complexes or form a structural frame work for this bacterium lacking a cell wall.
To learn more about the interaction between M. pneumoniae and its host, comparative studies with bacterial isolates from patients were done with the aim to correlate a certain genetic make up with pathogenicity.