The School of Life Sciences at University of Hyderabad organized a Distinguished Lecture on “Biomolecular Condensation in Neurodegeneration” by Prof. Dr. Markus Zweckstetter on December 20, 2022. Prof. Dr. Markus Zweckstetter is Director of the Department of Translational Structural Biology at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DKFZ), Göttingen, Germany. He is also faculty at the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences, and University of Göttingen, Germany.

Dr. Markus Zweckstetter in his lecture said, “Globally, age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and others are on rise across the populations. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of these diseases and finding therapeutic approaches requires multidisciplinary approaches. Biomolecular condensation/Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is a paradigm shift in the way we think about how molecules interact in the cells especially in the membrane less compartments. Increasing evidence suggests that age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders caused by aggregation-prone proteins may arise from failure to maintain liquid-phase homeostasis and healthy levels of condensed proteins and protein/RNA assemblies. Consistent with the importance of liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) and biomolecular condensation for neurodegenerative diseases, physiologically soluble proteins (Tau and Synuclein) undergo biological condensation and aggregates into neurotoxic deposits in neuro diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD).”

Prof. Markus’ lecture focused on a mechanism in which liquid droplets formed by the positively charged microtubule-binding domain of Tau undergo coacervation with negatively charged molecules to promote amyloid formation in Alzheimer’s disease. He also spoke about how his team and collaborators are developing new mechanism-based drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The goal of his research has been to understand what triggers or initiates this tremendous change in protein forms. To understand this, Prof. Markus Zweckstetter has used high-resolution NMR spectroscopy with biochemical/biophysical experiments.