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Juniorprofessor for Molecular Genetics of Eukaryotes

Felix Willmund

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Curriculum vitae:

  • since October 2014: Juniorprofessor for Molecular Genetics of Eukaryotes, University of Kaiserslautern (Germany), positive evaluation completed in October 2017
  • 04/2013 - 09/2014: Group Leader at the TU Kaiserslautern (Germany) - DAAD fellow
  • 02/2008 - 02/2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, CA, USA-EMBO fellow
  • 08/2007 - 01/2008: Postdoc, University of Freiburg, Germany
  • 04/2004 - 07/2007: PhD student in the group of Dr. Michael Schroda, University of Freiburg, Germany
  • 1998 - 2004: Studies of Biology (Major Biochemistry) at the University of Freiburg, Germany
  • 2001: Exchange year with BSc degree at the Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada

Major Research Interest

Global warming is a tremendous challenge for ecosystems and our agriculture. Increased temperatures affect photosynthetically active species on multiple levels and different ways. However, many aspects of temperature acclimation and stress response in plant and microalgae species are not well understood. Protein synthesis and subsequent folding of nascent polypeptides are central processes that governs the reorganization of a cellular proteome during acclimation. Previously, ribosomes - the synthesis machineries translating the genomic information into polypeptides – were considered as rather passive units. However, it is now understood that ribosomes are actually finely-tuned hubs, that are central in sensing and regulating protein homeostasis. Consequently, the aim of our research is to better understand the regulation of protein synthesis and folding during acclimation of plant cells. We are especially interested in understanding these processes in chloroplasts of eukaryotic organism, since these organelles face additional challenges during protein biogenesis. Besides the import of nucleus-encoded proteins, chloroplasts possess their own little genome and ribosomes. This means that proteins from two origins need to be orchestrated in order to achieve a balanced proteome, a process which is again highly responsive to environmental input.

 

Our methodological portfolio comprises global and quantitative approaches such as ribosome profiling and proteomics as well as protein-biochemistry and molecular tools for the investigation of individual components.

Selected Publications

  • Rohr M, Ries F, Herkt C, Gotsmann VL, Westrich, LD, Gries K, Trösch, R, Christmann J, Chaux-Jukic F, Jung M, Zimmer D, Mühlhaus T, Sommer F, Schroda M, Keller S, Möhlmann T, and Willmund F. The distinctive role of eukaryotic trigger factor serving protein biogenesis in chloroplasts of a green algae and a land plant. Plant Physiology (2019), 179. 1093-1110.
  • Trösch R, Barahimipour R, Gao Y, Badillo Corona JA, Gotsmann VL, Zimmer D, Mühlhaus T, Zoschke R and Willmund F. Commonalities and differences of chloroplast translation in a green alga and land plants. Nature Plants (2018), Aug; 4: 564-575 
  • Ries F, Carius Y, Rohr M, Gries K, Keller S, Lancaster CRD, Willmund F. Structural and molecular comparison of bacterial and eukaryotic trigger factors. (2017) Sci Rep. Sep 6;7(1):10680. 
  • Trösch R, Mühlhaus R, Schroda M, and Willmund F. (2014) ATP-dependent molecular chaperones in plastids - more complex than expected. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Sep;1847(9):872-88. Epub 2015 Jan 14. Review.
  • Neef DW, Jaeger A, Gomez-Pastor R, Willmund F, Frydman J and Thiele DJ (2014) A direct regulatory interaction between chaperonin TRiC and stress responsive transcription factor HSF1. Cell Rep 9(3):955-966.
  • Trösch R, Schroda M and Willmund F (2014). Molecular Chaperone Functions in Plastids. PLASTID BIOLOGY. Advances in Plant Biology: Vol. 5:325-358. 
  • Pechmann S*, Willmund F*, Frydman J. (2013). The ribosome as a hub for protein quality control. Mol Cell 49: 411-21 *Authors contributed equally
  • Willmund F, del Alamo M, Pechmann S, Chen T, Albanèse V, Dammer EB, Peng J, Frydman J. (2013). The cotranslational function of ribosome-associated Hsp70 in eukaryotic protein homeostasis. Cell 152: 196-209