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Nissen Group

Nissen group - Structural and Functional Studies of Membrane Proteins in Brain


The Nissen group investigates molecular mechanisms of membrane transport processes, receptors, and biomembrane ultrastructure. Activities are mainly focused on cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM), protein crystallography, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and include also small-angle X-ray scattering and cryo-electron tomography. Main subjects of research concern membrane transporters and receptors involved with neurological and psychiatric disorders, i.e. P-type ATPase (Na,K-ATPase, Ca-ATPases, lipid flippases, P5-ATPases), Na+ dependent neurotransmitter and chloride transporters, and insulin receptor signaling. studies include also structure based drug discovery and protein engineering. Biomembrane ultrastructures of neurons focus on axons and synapses associated with memory.

Our investigations link also to translational studies of neurological and psychiatric disorders associated with perturbed ion transport or metabolic control. 

Methods development, integrative structural biology, and bioimaging are also of great interest to the group.

Research Areas: Membrane proteins, Membrane transport and signaling, single-particle Cryo-EM, Cryo-Electron Tomography, Crystallography, Biochemistry, Drug discover

A collection of P-type ATPase structures from the Nissen lab. Figure courtesy of Dr. Oleg Sitsel.

Available projects

The Nissen group currently has projects available for Master and PhD students.

See current research projects in the laboratory here (link opens pdf)

See overview of current study opportunities in the laboratory (link opens new page)

Please contact Group Leader Poul Nissen directly, if interested.


2014.10.27 | Research news

New publication from Poul Nissen's group - A mechanism for intracellular release of Na+ by neurotransmitter/sodium symporters

Here, we present two crystal structures of ​MhsT, a Neurotransmitter/sodium symporter member from Bacillus halodurans, in occluded inward-facing states with bound Na+ ions and ​L-tryptophan, providing insight into the cytoplasmic release of Na+.

2014.09.29 | Research news

New popular science article by Poul Nissen - How do we show molecules and how they move?

Prof. Poul Nissen publishes popular science article on "How do we show molecules and how they move?" in the special edition of the Biozoom journal ‘You need to see this: Pushing the boundaries of scientific visualization’ (Biozoom Vol 3 (2014)).

2013.12.08 | Research news

New publication - Copper-transporting P-type ATPases use a unique ion-release pathway

New publication from Poul Nissen's group published in the Journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Results from this study provide deeper insight into causes of serious diseases involving copper metabolism. Mapping the mechanism that regulates the transport of copper across the cell membrane and out of the body’s cells actually provides a…

2013.09.30 | Research news

New publication - Heterologous expression and purification of an active human TRPV3 ion channel

New publication from Poul Nissen's group published in FEBS Journal. The transient receptor potential vanilloid 3 (TRPV3) cation channel is widely expressed in human tissues and has been shown to be activated by mild temperatures or chemical ligands. We demonstrate that the recombinant purified protein contains high ?-helical content and migrates…

2013.09.19 | Research news

New publication from Poul Nissen's group - Crucial new insight into the secrets of Nobel Prize-winning pump

Jens Chr. Skou was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the sodium-potassium pump. Now, a team of researchers from Aarhus has completed the description of its structure. A result which is of vital importance for our understanding of the body's functions and essential for our understanding of illness and for the development of new medicines.

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