2021 research activities

Head Prof. Rivka Dikstein

Picture of Prof. Rivka Dikstein

Prof. Rivka Dikstein

Office +972-8-934-2117


The scientific activities in the department of Biomolecular Sciences span several areas in the Life Sciences. The common thread is the study of the biochemistry of life and disease. Emphasis is given to the examination of proteins, whether soluble or membrane-bound, and their key biological functions and we seek a molecular understanding of their evolution, cellular interactions, structures and functions. A variety of biochemical, biophysical, structural, molecular-biological, and state of the art imaging methodologies are employed in our department. Overlapping interests and inter-group cooperations signify the spirit of our research. The department has more than 20 research groups whose activities are centered around the following foci of interest:

  1. Protein science and macromolecular machines. Several groups investigate the basic principles governing protein-protein interactions; composition, assembly, and architecture of multi-enzyme and other large complexes; catalytic mechanisms and the evolution of proteins and enzymes. A major aim is to understand how the findings relate to intricate biological processes.
  2. DNA and regulation of gene expression. Various aspects of nucleic acids research are addressed in our department including: DNA repair and mutagenesis in mammals; basal and activated transcription; mRNA translation; specific gene expression in the pancreas; phylogenetic analysis of accumulated somatic mutations.
  3. Structure, function, and biogenesis of membrane proteins. We investigate important integral membrane proteins on the biochemical, biophysical, structural, and physiological levels. This includes Na+ and K+ channels, Na+/K+ ATPase and its FXYD protein regulators, multidrug transporters, intra-membrane proteases, and peptides that integrate into membranes in various systems.
  4. Membranes, lipids, and organelle structure, function, and biogenesis. Studies in our department include the biosynthetic pathway of membrane proteins; intracellular protein traffic, especially during the process of autophagy; lysosome biogenesis and lipid homeostasis; Calcium homeostasis; and, assembly and function of membrane proteins involved in the immune response, infectious diseases, and viral envelopes.
  5. Signaling within and between cells. Several researchers in the department are interested in problems related to signal transduction. Cell guidance and navigation; axon guidance; cell death and tissue damage; long distance intracellular signaling; regulation of expression of virulence factors; regulation of the circadian rhythm; epigenetic gene silencing; epigenetics and developmental regulation.
  6. Molecular basis of disease. Many research programs in our department involve human disorders, diseases, and syndromes. This includes inflammation, infections and antibiotic resistance, organophosphate detoxification, obesity and diabetes, cancer, and lysosomal storage diseases. Many of these disorders are investigated at the molecular level.

A variety of methodologies are being utilized, with an emphasis on biochemistry, biophysics, molecular genetics, advanced light microscopy, computation methods, and structural tools (such as crystallography, atomic force microscope, mass spectrometry). Additional information can be obtained in the department's Home Page.

ScientistsShow details

  • Picture of Dr. Ori Avinoam

    Dr. Ori Avinoam

    The mechanisms of protein mediated membrane sculpting in health and disease
    Spatial and temporal organization of the molecular machines driving vesicle formation.
    Endocytosis and membrane trafficking in eukaryotes.
    Caveolae in muscle biogenesis, homeostasis and atrophy.
    Cell-to-cell fusion
    Imaging Across Scales
    Correlative light and 3D electron microscopy at room temperature and in cryo.
    Advanced light microscopy techniques.

  • Picture of Prof. Ed Bayer

    Prof. Ed Bayer

    Structural and functional aspects of the multi-enzyme cellulosome complex from cellulose-degrading bacteria.
    The cohesin-dockerin couple - Protein-protein interactions that mediate recognition and specificity in cellulosome assembly.
    Cellulose-binding domains as models for protein-sugar interactions.
    Bioinformatics of cellulases and cellulosome components
    Comparative genomics of cellulosome components.
    Structure determination of cellulosome components.
    Enzymology of cellulosomes for conversion of biomass to biofuels
    Designer cellulosomes - Selective engineering of chimaeric cellulosome constructs for nanotechnology.
    Avidin-biotin system - Mutated avidins and streptavidins

  • Picture of Prof. Eitan Bibi

    Prof. Eitan Bibi

    Membrane protein biogenesis in E. coli
    Collaboration with:  Gert Bange, Marburg University, Marburg, Germany. Moran Shalev-Benami, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
    FtsY, the essential prokaryotic SRP-receptor: biogenesis and function
    Membrane targeting and association of ribosomes in E. coli.
    Multidrug transport by the E. coli secondary transporter MdfA
    Collaboration with:  Daniella Goldfarb, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. Moran Shalev-Benami, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
    Conformational behavior of MdfA
    Structural studies on membrane embedded MdfA

  • Picture of Prof. Rivka Dikstein

    Prof. Rivka Dikstein

    Transcription and translation control in health and disease
    Collaboration with:  Yuki Yamaguchi, Idit Shachar, Nahum Sonenberg, Yuri Svitkin, Franck Martin, Katsura Asano, Igor Ulitsky, Michael Walker, Neta Regev-Rudsky
    Mechanism of rapid transcriptional induction of inflammatory genes
    Links between mammalian transcription and mRNA translation
    Developing pharmacological tools to address fundamental questions in mRNA translation and for therapeutic purposes
    Mechanism of start site selection in transcription and translation and its role in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases

  • Picture of Prof. Michael Eisenbach

    Prof. Michael Eisenbach

    Chemotaxis of bacteria
    Molecular mechanisms and function of acetylation of the response regulator
    Molecular mechanism of function of the switch of the bacterial flagellar motor
    Sperm guidance in mammals
    Molecular mechanism of sperm thermotaxis

  • Picture of Prof. Zvulun Elazar

    Prof. Zvulun Elazar

    Molecular mechanisms of autophagy
    Mechanism of autophagosomes biogenesis
    Autophagy and neurodegeneration
    Regulation of autophagy in yeast and mammals
    Mechanism of intracellular protein trafficking
    Regulation of intra-Golgi protein transport

  • Picture of Prof. Michael Fainzilber

    Prof. Michael Fainzilber

    Molecular mechanisms underlying spatial signaling within neurons and other large cells
    Retrograde signaling mechanisms in healthy, diseased or injured neurons.
    Molecular mechanisms of axonal communication and neuronal regeneration.
    Size sensing mechanisms in neurons and other large cells.

  • Picture of Dr. Sarel-Jacob Fleishman

    Dr. Sarel-Jacob Fleishman

    Computational design of protein function
    Collaboration with:  Dan Tawfik Deborah Fass Gilad Haran Eitan Bibi
    Computational enzyme design
    Computational antibody design
    Design of optimised proteins, including stability, affinity, catalytic efficiency, and selectivity
    Design of smart libraries
    Membrane protein design

  • Picture of Prof. Steven J.d Karlish

    Prof. Steven J.d Karlish

    Development of isoform-selective drugs
    Molecular mechanisms involved in generation of essential hypertension.
    Regulation of Na/K-ATPase by FXYD proteins.
    Crystalization and function of Na/K-ATPase.

  • Picture of Prof. David Mirelman

    Prof. David Mirelman

    Molecular pathogenesis of the human intestinal parasite <I>Entamoeba histolytica</I>.
    Collaboration with:  Rivka Bracha
    Molecular biology and genome organization in the lower eukaryot <I>Entamoeba histolytica</I>.
    Selective inhibition of expression of virulence genes by Antisense RNA.
    Transcriptional epigenetic gene silencing mechanisms
    Pathogenesis of Amoebiasis
    Development of vaccine against <I>Entamoeba histolytica</I>.
    Mode of action and therapeutical potential of Allicin from Garlic
    Collaboration with:  Aharon Rabinkov, Elena Appel
    Uses of derivatives of Allicin against hypertension and obesity
    Antifungal delivery system which produces in situ toxic allicin molecules
    A delivery system for the in-vivo killing of cancer cells by Allicin

  • Picture of Prof. Yechiel Shai

    Prof. Yechiel Shai

    Membrane-protein interaction and molecular recognition within the membrane milieu. Implication to the function and structure of membrane proteins.
    Assembly and organization of pore forming toxins and ion channels in membranes: Studies with isolated fragments and intact proteins.
    Molecular mechanism of membrane fusion and its inhibition: Studies with HIV and Sendai Virus.
    Molecular basis for cell selectivity by cytolytic antimicrobial peptides.

  • Picture of Prof. Michal Sharon

    Prof. Michal Sharon

    Studying large protein complexes involved in the protein degradation pathway using a novel mass spectrometry approach.
    Developing novel methodological approaches for structural mass spectrometry
    Structure-function relationship of the signalosome complex
    Investigation of the 20S ubiquitin-independent degradation pathway

  • Picture of Prof. Yoram Shechter

    Prof. Yoram Shechter

    Mechanism of insulin action: Post-binding events in insulin action
    Post-receptor agents mimicking insulin.
    Effect of vanadium <I>in vivo</I> and <I>in vitro</I>.
    Role of protein tyrosine kinases and protein phosphotyrosine phosphatases in insulin effects.
    Inhibitors of tyrosine kinases.
    Chemical modifications of peptides and protein drugs.
    Novel technologies to prolong life time of peptide and protein drugs.

  • Prof. Dan Tawfik

    Evolution and mechanism of enzymes
    Molecular evolution in man-made cell-like compartments.
    Directed evolution of tailor-made hydrolases (esterases, phosphoesterases, organophosphate hydrolases, and amidases) and DNA-modifying enzymes.
    Structure, mechanism and evolution of serum paraoxonases (PONs)
    The role of promiscuity and conformational plasticity in protein evolution.
    Directed evolution of DNA-methyltransferases and DNase inhibitors
    The stability effects of mutations
    Protein evolvability
    Chaperones and protein evolution
  • Picture of Prof. Michael Walker

    Prof. Michael Walker

    Selective gene expression in pancreatic beta cells:
    Role of specific transcription factors in expression of the insulin gene in pancreatic beta cells and in control of pancreatic development.
    Novel beta cell specific genes: isolation, characterization and use as potential tools in diagnosis and therapy of diabetes.

  • Picture of Prof. David Wallach

    Prof. David Wallach

    Regulation of cell death and tissue damage:
    Proteins involved in the signaling for the cell-killing (apoptotic and necrotic), immunoregulatory, and inflammatory functions of cytokines of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family, and in the regulation of these functions.
    In vivo models for the functions of the signaling mechanisms activated by ligands of the TNF family and for their pathological aberrations.
    Natural antagonists to ligands of the TNF family, for protection against the deleterious effects of these cytokines in autoimmune and infectious diseases.
    Regulation of the activity of the NF kappa B transcription factors.
    The caspases, their functions and mechanisms of activation.
    Molecular mechanisms for chronic inflammatory skin diseases.
    Contributions of aberrations in the function of signaling proteins activated by ligands of the TNF family to cancer
    cancer-cells' survival factors

  • Picture of Prof. Meir Wilchek

    Prof. Meir Wilchek

    Study and application of molecular biorecognition
    Collaboration with:  retired, Dr. Talia Miron.
    Avidin-biotin system: Studies of the strong binding using chemical, physical and biological methods; new applications of the system.
    Affinity chromatography: Studies to improve purification of protein by developing new carriers, new activation methods and new principles.
    Affinity therapy: Development of methods to couple drugs and toxins to biological carriers, such as antibodies, and their delivery to target cells.
    Fluorescence, FRET.