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Mitochondria are endosymbiotic organelles essential for the oxidative energy metabolism of eukaryotic cells. Similar to Gram-negative bacteria, mitochondria contain an outer and an inner membrane and an own genome. However, only a handful of proteins are encoded in mitochondria. In addition, no membrane lipids are synthesized de novo within mitochondria. Therefore the vast majority of mitochondrial proteins and lipid precursors must be imported and we study the biogenesis of mitochondrial membranes.

Figure: Machineries required for mitochondrial membrane biogenesis (Kulawiak et al., 2013)


  • Import and insertion mitochondrial membrane proteins
  • Assembly of respiratory chain complexes
  • Connection between mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum
  • Biogenesis of mitochondrial lipids
  • Analysis of mutants affecting the mitochondrial energy metabolism
  • Organization of mitochondrial DNA-protein complexes and mitochondrial cytopathy of the kidney (SFB 1140 KIDGEM)
  • Identification and analysis of novel mitochondrial proteins encoded by small open reading frames (ERC MITOsmORFs)