Arbeitsgruppe Fernandez Busnadiego
Our research focuses on cutting-edge electron microscopy to reveal the intricate detail of cellular architecture. We combine cryo-FIB milling with cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) to image cells pristinely preserved by vitrification at molecular resolution.
One of our foci is the study of membrane contact sites (MCS), structures where two cellular membranes come into close apposition to directly exchange Ca2+, lipids and metabolites. We combine cryo-ET with molecular biology and functional assays to reveal the structural and functional roles of different MCS-resident proteins in situ, i.e. within their unaltered cellular environment.
Another major research area is the molecular architecture of neurons, both in their healthy state and in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. For example, our work has revealed the intricate structure of the presynaptic cytomatrix, a dense network of filaments linking synaptic vesicles to each other and to the active zone, likely playing important roles in the regulation of neurotransmitter release. We have also investigated toxic protein aggregates related to e.g. Huntington’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Our work reveals the broad diversity of such aggregates, both structurally and in terms of cellular interactions. These studies are shedding new light into the molecular mechanisms of neuron (dys)function.