Research projects

Class I cytokines are involved in intercellular communication. Examples include most interleukins and colony stimulating factors (like erythropoietin) but also some hormones like growth hormone and leptin. Interferons are also closely related. These secreted proteins are part of the cytokine network that controls host defence, haematopoiesis and metabolism in higher organisms.
Their receptors are composed of an extracellular, ligand binding part that is linked to the cytosolic, signaling domain by a single transmembrane region. CRL is studying several key aspects of these receptors. Detailed studies are ongoing to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie receptor activation upon ligand binding. We here focus on the leptin receptor and from these insights several leptin antagonists were developed. A key signaling event downstream of these receptors is activation of the JAK/STAT pathway and the MAPPIT technology is based on this signaling route. Using MAPPIT and other technologies including molecular modeling we investigate several protein interactions that are important in the innate immune response.