ERC Consolidator Grant for Shotaro Otsuka

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Bild: Max Perutz Labs/Max Kropitz
Bild: Max Perutz Labs/Max Kropitz

Perutz group leader Shotaro Otsuka has received one of the most prestigious awards for researchers in Europe - the ERC Consolidator Grant. The total funding of 2 million over 5 years recognizes both Shotaro’s past achievements and future potential. The Otsuka lab is investigating the inter-organelle communication between the endoplasmic reticulum and the nucleus. The project "conNEctoeR" aims to understand the structure and function of membrane connections that link the nucleus to the endoplasmic reticulum.

To fulfil their function, eukaryotic cells are packed with highly specialized organelles. Communication between these organelles is important for the proper function of the cell. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER), as the site of synthesis and turnover of most lipids and membrane proteins, plays a key role in inter-organelle communication. Connected with the nuclear outer membrane via membrane junctions, the ER is the nuclear membrane’s supply chain of lipids and proteins. However, the structural nature and regulation of ER-nucleus membrane junctions are poorly understood. The Otsuka lab aims to elucidate the molecular composition of these junctions as well as the mechanisms that regulate them.

With "conNEctoeR", the Otsuka lab pursues three aims to investigate ER-nucleus junctions: "We want to study which proteins regulate this junction, how the shape of the junction affects the transport of macromolecules, and what is the mechanism behind it", Shotaro Otsuka explains. Using a combination of high-resolution electron microscopy, protein engineering, and mass spectrometry, the Otsuka lab takes a systematic approach to dissecting the composition and structure of the junctions.
This award brings the total number of ERC grants obtained by Perutz’ scientists to 18.

About Shotaro Otsuka

Shotaro Otsuka was born in Tokyo, Japan, and obtained a PhD in Biophysics at Kyoto University. For his postdoctoral work, he moved to Europe in 2011 to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. In 2019, he started his own lab at the Max Perutz Labs Vienna.

About the Max Perutz Labs

The Max Perutz Labs are a research institute established by the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna to provide an environment for excellent, internationally recognized research and education in the field of Molecular Biology. Dedicated to a mechanistic understanding of fundamental biomedical processes, scientists at the Max Perutz Labs aim to link breakthroughs in basic research to advances in human health. The Max Perutz Labs are located at the Vienna BioCenter, one of Europe’s hotspots for Life Sciences, and host more than 40 research groups, involving around 400 scientists and staff from more than 50 nations.