Prof. Dr. Torsten Schöneberg
Our recent research focuses on the newly identified neurotransmitter receptors of the G-protein-coupled receptor family (GPCRs).
GPCRs are involved in almost every physiologic process. More than 60% of all drugs influence function GPCR. Therefore, one can expect new physiologic insights and the identification of new therapeutic drug targets by the analysis of orphan GPCRs. Also, mutations in GPCRs can cause inherited human diseases such as obesity. Our lab diagnoses and analyzes GPCR dysfunction in affected patients in order to find the basis for medical treatment.
For the analysis, biochemical, genetic and pharmacologic methods are employed and we research the functional relevance of orphan GPCR in transgenic animal models. Additionally, the comparison of different species can provide valuable information on the advantages or disadvantages of GPCR gain or inactivation in primates and humans. Though these studies, we expect to gain new insights into mechanisms and specific reasons for gain and loss of GPCR-signaling abilities during the evolution towards the human brain.
This project already benefits from the ongoing collaborations with the groups of S. Pääbo (primate and population genetics) and A. Beck-Sickinger (GPCR) as well as from the strong local expertise in neurophysiology (J. Eilers, A. Reichenbach, P. Illes).
In the image: Mutations in neuronal GPCR can cause diseases: Inactivating mutations in the hypothalamic melanocortin type 4 receptor cause an inherited form of obesity because of abnormal feeding behavior. Left: normal mouse, right: mouse with a defect melanocortin type 4 receptor.