Nissen Group

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

The Nissen group investigates molecular mechanisms of membrane transport processes and biomembrane structure. Activities are mainly focused on protein crystallography, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and include also small-angle X-ray scattering and electron microscopy. Main subjects of research concern P-type ATPase (ion pumps and lipid flippases) and Na+ dependent transporters, but include also structure based drug discovery and protein engineering. 

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

Research focus

The main focus of our research is to investigate the membrane transporters involved with neurological and psychiatric disorders. The Na+, K+-ATPase is of particular interest, since many neurological disorders are linked to the function of this pump, such as function loss in the Na+,K+-ATPase that can lead to severe diseases such as familial hemiplegic migraine and rapid-onset Dystonia with Parkinsonism.

Several different methods are used to study membrane pumps in our research group, such as structural studies including use of nanodiscs, electrophysiology, and hypoxic conditions.

Available projects

The Nissen group currently has projects available for Master and PhD students.
Please contact Group Leader Poul Nissen directly, if interested.

See here the poster presentation of research projects in Poul Nissen's laboratory.


2016.05.26 | Research news

New publication from Poul Nissen's group - New discovery from the molecular machinery for depression and addiction

In the study "A Conserved Leucine Occupies the Empty Substrate Site of LeuT in the Na+-free Return State" it is described how a group of the brain’s transport proteins with important roles in depression and dependence overcome the step which limits their effectiveness. The discovery makes it possible to describe the full function of the transport…

2016.04.05 | Awards

Poul Nissen awarded the Aminoff Prize 2016

As the first Dane, Poul Nissen received Thursday the Aminoff Prize 2016 from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of the structural basis for ATP-driven transport of ions across cell membranes.

2015.09.10 | Awards

DANDRITE director Poul Nissen awarded the international Gregori Aminoff Prize 2016

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Gregori Aminoff Prize in crystallography 2016 to Professor Poul Nissen, Aarhus University. Poul Nissen is the first Dane to receive the Aminoff Prize.

2015.01.28 | Research news

New publication from Poul Nissen's group - New steroid-bound structures of the sodium-potassium pump broaden our knowledge about this enzyme

Na+,K+-ATPase is the ion pump responsible for maintenance of the electrochemical gradients of Na+ and K+ across the membrane of animal cells. Cardiotonic steroids constitute a broad class of specific Na+,K+-ATPase inhibitors, including drugs of clinical importance with multiple physiological effects. The existence of several endogenous cardiotonic…

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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