IBP is engaged in basic research in the field of biophysics,more precisely, in the research of the structure, function and dynamics of biological systems (biomolecules, cell components, cells and cell populations) using a broad spectrum of methods (molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, etc.). IBP contributes to increasing the level of knowledge and education, to the development of biotechnologies and to the transfer of reseach results to practical applications, particularly in the field of diagnostics and treatment of deleterious human diseases. In the field of biophysics, IBP is involved in international cooperation including organization of international conferences and seminars (see „International Cooperation“). In collaboration with universities, IBP takes care of approximately 60 PhD students and substantially participates in teaching activities (IBP provides 60 semestral lectures for different universities).
Molecular Biophysics and Pharmacology
This Department is involved in studies of DNA metallation and its relationship to anticancer drug design. Anticancer agents containing metals such as iridium, osmium, platinum and ruthenium are investigated. Attention is paid to the distortions introduced by these drugs into DNA, their recognition, repair and further biological consequences. The work is aimed at a better understanding of the mechanism of action of metallodrugs, and at a rational design and development of novel agents for anticancer strategies of interest to the pharmaceutical industry. Interaction of agents of chemical or physical nature with DNA, mechanisms resulting in DNA damage and underlying recognition and repair of this damage pertain logically to the concept of the Institution.
Biophysical Chemistry and Molecular Oncology
DBCMO contributes significantly to the IBP scientific conception by research in the areas of (a) structure and interactions of nucleic acids in solution and at interfaces, with focus on the behavior of various DNA structures at electrodes, effects of DNA damage, chemical modification, association interactions with small molecules or with proteins on its adsorption/desorption behavior and electrochemical activity; (b) electrochemical properties of peptides and proteins, particularly the relations between structure of protein and their electrocatalytic activity at mercury based electrodes; and (c) studies of p53-family tumor suppressor proteins with focus on DNA interactions of various isoforms and mutants of these proteins with respect to their physiological activities. Outcomes of basic research are utilized in the development of novel biosensors and bioassays.
The research carried out in the DME underpins the Institute’s mission to generate fundamental information in biophysics by investigating the genome structure, function and evolution. Currently we focus on (i) structural changes in early polyploid generations important in generating genetic diversity. (ii) epigenetic control of gene expression and heritability of epigenetic changes such as DNA methylation and covalent modifications of chromatin. We are committed to provide training expertise in various kinds of genomic analysis at the local and international levels. Our research has an impact on policy-making related to improved conservation strategies in sensitive areas and to the conservation of genetic resources.
Molecular Cytology and Cytometry
The global structure of the human genome and chromosome territories, nuclear architecture and epigenetic states of the chromatin are investigated in relation to functional aspects under different stages of the cell cycle, during cell differentiation, DNA repair and cancerogenesis. Chromatin organizing proteins such as HP1 or HMG box proteins are involved. Attention is paid to the structure and function of telomeres. Complex investigations of repair processes after irradiation involve molecular, cell and organismal levels. These topics are typical of biophysics and are inherent to the concept of the Institution.
DC focuses on the research in the field of cellular signaling and physiology relevant to cancer and developmental biology, with a particular focus on potential role of lipids and their derivatives in these processes. A special attention is paid to interactions of lipid dietary components (e.g. polyunsaturated fatty acids and butyrate), pharmaceuticals (NSAIDs, cytostatics) and environmental pollutants (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins) with physiological regulators of cytokinetics, including tumor necrosis factor, tumor growth factor-b, fibroblast growth factor and Wnt families of signaling proteins. The results are exploited especially in fields of cancer prevention/therapy and toxicology. These topics organically contribute to the conception of the Institution.
Free Radical Pathophysiology
The research activity of DFRP is an integral part of the research plan of the Institute. The aim of the department is to achieve a new knowledge about the mechanisms of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) production by cell populations. The attention is focused on the effects of mediators released from immune cells, platelets and endothelial cells and on the modulating and mediator functions of lipids. The interactions of immune cells with other cell populations and extracellular matrix components, the role of RONS in cell signaling and the effects of RONS on cytokinetics of normal and transformed cell populations are studied to elucidate their biological activity.
Structure and Dynamics of Nucleic Acids
Our laboratory carries out theoretical (computational) studies of structure, dynamics and molecular interactions of DNA, RNA and their complexes with drugs and proteins. We use a wide spectrum of state-of-the-art computational techniques, including explicit solvent molecular dynamics simulations, advanced ab initio quantum chemical methods and modern bioinformatics methods. In this area, we belong to the world-leading laboratories, which can best be evidenced by our publications and their literature impact. The conception of the department has been included into the conception of the Institute.
CD Spectroscopy of Nucleic Acids
The research of the laboratory fits well with the research conception of the Institute in which relationships between DNA primary structure and its conformational properties, with respect to the function, pathology, and evolution of genomes are investigated. Our goal is to convert the information stored in the DNA primary structure, i.e. in the linear nucleotide sequence, to the level of the secondary and tertiary structures which are more closely related to their biological function. At present, the main attention is focused on the study of quadruplexes which, in a number of cases, have been finding application in gene expression control, including oncogenes, as well as in the regulation of cell growth, ageing, and carcinogenesis.
Plant Developmental Genetics
We study molecular processes of plant development and evolution, particularly, the processes of reproduction and sex determination, the structure, function, and evolution of sex chromosomes in model dioecious plants. Our work brings new data about evolutionary processes shaping the sex chromosomes. We have elucidated that the dioecy is a polyphyletic phenomenon, which can occur independently even in close species. Molecular and cytogenetic studies of plant genome will serve as a model to analyse basic biophysical processes in eukaryotic cells. The conception of the department is fully involved in the conception of the Institution.