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Dusseldorf, Germany

Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf was founded in 1965 as the successor organisation to Düsseldorf’s Medical Academy of 1907. Following several expansions throughout the decades, the university has been comprising five faculties since 1993. At present, more than 20,000 full-time students are pursuing studies at HHU. There is a total staff of approximately 2,900 persons at HHU . Wikipedia.

Wulff G.,Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf
Accounts of chemical research | Year: 2012

The impressive efficiency and selectivity of biological catalysts has engendered a long-standing effort to understand the details of enzyme action. It is widely accepted that enzymes accelerate reactions through their steric and electronic complementarity to the reactants in the rate-determining transition states. Thus, tight binding to the transition state of a reactant (rather than to the corresponding substrate) lowers the activation energy of the reaction, providing strong catalytic activity. Debates concerning the fundamentals of enzyme catalysis continue, however, and non-natural enzyme mimics offer important additional insight in this area. Molecular structures that mimic enzymes through the design of a predetermined binding site that stabilizes the transition state of a desired reaction are invaluable in this regard. Catalytic antibodies, which can be quite active when raised against stable transition state analogues of the corresponding reaction, represent particularly successful examples. Recently, synthetic chemistry has begun to match nature's ability to produce antibody-like binding sites with high affinities for the transition state. Thus, synthetic, molecularly imprinted polymers have been engineered to provide enzyme-like specificity and activity, and they now represent a powerful tool for creating highly efficient catalysts. In this Account, we review recent efforts to develop enzyme models through the concept of transition state stabilization. In particular, models for carboxypeptidase A were prepared through the molecular imprinting of synthetic polymers. On the basis of successful experiments with phosphonic esters as templates to arrange amidinium groups in the active site, the method was further improved by combining the concept of transition state stabilization with the introduction of special catalytic moieties, such as metal ions in a defined orientation in the active site. In this way, the imprinted polymers were able to provide both an electrostatic stabilization for the transition state through the amidinium group as well as a synergism of transition state recognition and metal ion catalysis. The result was an excellent catalyst for carbonate hydrolysis. These enzyme mimics represent the most active catalysts ever prepared through the molecular imprinting strategy. Their catalytic activity, catalytic efficiency, and catalytic proficiency clearly surpass those of the corresponding catalytic antibodies. The active structures in natural enzymes evolve within soluble proteins, typically by the refining of the folding of one polypeptide chain. To incorporate these characteristics into synthetic polymers, we used the concept of transition state stabilization to develop soluble, nanosized carboxypeptidase A models using a new polymerization method we term the "post-dilution polymerization method". With this methodology, we were able to prepare soluble, highly cross-linked, single-molecule nanoparticles. These particles have controlled molecular weights (39 kDa, for example) and, on average, one catalytically active site per particle. Our strategies have made it possible to obtain efficient new enzyme models and further advance the structural and functional analogy with natural enzymes. Moreover, this bioinspired design based on molecular imprinting in synthetic polymers offers further support for the concept of transition state stabilization in catalysis. Source

Marian C.M.,Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Computational Molecular Science | Year: 2012

Many light-induced molecular processes involve a change in spin state and are formally forbidden in non-relativistic quantum theory. To make them happen, spin-orbit coupling (SOC) has to be invoked. Intersystem crossing (ISC), the nonradiative transition between two electronic states of different multiplicity, plays a key role in photochemistry and photophysics with a broad range of applications including molecular photonics, biological photosensors, photodynamic therapy, and materials science. Quantum chemistry has become a valuable tool for gaining detailed insight into the mechanisms of ISC. After a short introduction highlighting the importance of ISC and a brief description of the relativistic origins of SOC, this article focusses on approximate SOC operators for practical use in molecular applications and reviews state-of-the-art theoretical methods for evaluating ISC rates. Finally, a few sample applications are discussed that underline the necessity of studying the mechanisms of ISC processes beyond qualitative rules such as the El-Sayed rules and the energy gap law. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

Sousa F.L.,Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2013

Life is the harnessing of chemical energy in such a way that the energy-harnessing device makes a copy of itself. This paper outlines an energetically feasible path from a particular inorganic setting for the origin of life to the first free-living cells. The sources of energy available to early organic synthesis, early evolving systems and early cells stand in the foreground, as do the possible mechanisms of their conversion into harnessable chemical energy for synthetic reactions. With regard to the possible temporal sequence of events, we focus on: (i) alkaline hydrothermal vents as the far-from-equilibrium setting, (ii) the Wood-Ljungdahl (acetyl-CoA) pathway as the route that could have underpinned carbon assimilation for these processes, (iii) biochemical divergence, within the naturally formed inorganic compartments at a hydrothermal mound, of geochemically confined replicating entities with a complexity below that of free-living prokaryotes, and (iv) acetogenesis and methanogenesis as the ancestral forms of carbon and energy metabolism in the first free-living ancestors of the eubacteria and archaebacteria, respectively. In terms of the main evolutionary transitions in early bioenergetic evolution, we focus on: (i) thioester-dependent substrate-level phosphorylations, (ii) harnessing of naturally existing proton gradients at the vent-ocean interface via the ATP synthase, (iii) harnessing of Na(+) gradients generated by H(+)/Na(+) antiporters, (iv) flavin-based bifurcation-dependent gradient generation, and finally (v) quinone-based (and Q-cycle-dependent) proton gradient generation. Of those five transitions, the first four are posited to have taken place at the vent. Ultimately, all of these bioenergetic processes depend, even today, upon CO2 reduction with low-potential ferredoxin (Fd), generated either chemosynthetically or photosynthetically, suggesting a reaction of the type 'reduced iron → reduced carbon' at the beginning of bioenergetic evolution. Source

Yuki N.,National University of Singapore | Hartung H.-P.,Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf
New England Journal of Medicine | Year: 2012

The Guillain-Barré syndrome, an acute immune-mediated neuropathy, still carries a grave prognosis. The syndrome is manifested as a spectrum of peripheral-nerve disorders with several clinical variants that are characterized by the distribution of weakness of the limbs or cranialnerve- innervated muscles, underlying pathological abnormalities, and associated autoantibodies. 5-7,34,35,37,85 The most frequent antecedent infection is C. jejuni infection, which is associated with 30% of cases of the Guillain-Barré syndrome and 20% of cases of the Miller Fisher syndrome.9,40 Molecular mimicry between the bacterial and peripheral-nerve components appears to elicit autoantibodies and induce the development of the axonal subtype of the Guillain-Barré syndrome or the Miller Fisher syndrome after enteritis with C. jejuni. 40,50,53,54 Eculizumab, erythropoietin, and fasudil, which have been used in the treatment of other, unrelated medical conditions, have shown promise in animal models of the Guillain- Barré syndrome, 57,58,60 but clinical studies are lacking. Copyright © 2012 Massachusetts Medical Society. Source

Dagan T.,Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf
Trends in Microbiology | Year: 2011

Phylogenomics is aimed at studying functional and evolutionary aspects of genome biology using phylogenetic analysis of whole genomes. Current approaches to genome phylogenies are commonly founded in terms of phylogenetic trees. However, several evolutionary processes are non tree-like in nature, including recombination and lateral gene transfer (LGT). Phylogenomic networks are a special type of phylogenetic network reconstructed from fully sequenced genomes. The network model, comprising genomes connected by pairwise evolutionary relations, enables the reconstruction of both vertical and LGT events. Modeling genome evolution in the form of a network enables the use of an extensive toolbox developed for network research. The structural properties of phylogenomic networks open up fundamentally new insights into genome evolution. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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