2024 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 by various pathogens 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

    Membrane remodeling during differentiation and fusion of vertebrate skeletal muscles
    Collaboration with: 
    Spatial and temporal organization of the molecular machines driving cell-to-cell fusion
    Maintenance of Membrane homeostasis during cell fusion
    Mechanisms of ER remodeling during cell fusion
    Exocytosis of Large Secretory Vesicles (LSVs)
    Collaboration with:  Prof. Benny Shilo
    Spatial and temporal organization of the molecular machines driving exocytosis of LSVs.
    The lipid and protein composition and function of the fusion pore
    Pre-organization of the vesicular membrane
    Maintenance of Membrane homeostasis during secretion
    The fusion mechanism of extracellular vesicles and viruses
    Collaboration with: 
    The fusion mechanism of extracellular vesicles
    Identification of Pan Coronavirus fusion inhibitors
    Development of correlative light and electron microcopy methods

  • Picture of Prof. Ed Bayer

    Prof. Ed Bayer

    Structural and functional aspects of the multi-enzyme cellulosome complex from cellulose-degrading bacteria.
    Collaboration with:  Raphael Lamed, Tel Aviv University Yuval Shoham, Technion, Haifa Itzhak Mizrahi, Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva Oded Livnah, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yitzhak Hadar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Shi-You Ding, Michigan State University Nicole Koropatkin and Eric Martens, University of Michigan Rafael Bernardi, Auburn University Hermann Gaub, Ludwig Maximilian University Don C. Lamb, Ludwig Maximilian University Bryan White, University of Illinois Klaus Schulten, University of Illinois Bernard Henrissat, Marseille Mirjam Czjzek, Rostok, France Yingang Feng, Ya-Jun Liu and Qiu Cui, Qingdao, China Yannick Bomble, Martin Keller and Michael Himmel, NREL, Golden CO Victor De Lorenzo, Madrid Mariano Carrión-Vázquez, Spanish National Research Council Carlos Fonts, University of Lisbon Marek Cieplak, Polish Academy of Sciences Damien Thompson, University of Limerick Henri-Pierre Fierobe, CNRS, Marseille Harry Flint, University of Aberdeen Harry Gilbert, Newcastle University Gideon Davies, York University Dimitris Hatzinikolaou, University of Athens
    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.
    FtsY, the essential prokaryotic SRP-receptor: biogenesis and function
    Membrane targeting and association of ribosomes in E. coli.

  • 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
    The transcription elongation factor Spt4/Spt5 as a drug target in neurodegenerative diseases
    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 of bacterial chemotaxis and of the switch of the flagellar motor
    Sperm navigation 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 Dr. Nir Fluman

    Dr. Nir Fluman

    Helix flipping across membranes
    Sequence features that allow transmembrane helices to flip across membranes
    Involvement of helix flipping events in the process of membrane protein folding and quality control
    Identification of physiologically-relevant conformational mechanisms that require helices to flip across membranes
    Computational studies of helix flipping events across proteomes
    Membrane protein quality control
    Characterizing the molecular features of unfolded membrane proteins
    Identifying and characterizing cellular factors that recognize misfolded membrane proteins

  • 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. Zvi Livneh

    Prof. Zvi Livneh

    DNA damage tolerance by error-prone DNA polymerases
    DNA damage tolerance by error-prone DNA polymerases in embryonic stem cells
    DNA damage tolerance by error-prone DNA polymerases under hypoxia
    Biomarkers for risk assessment, prevention and early detection of cancer
    DNA repair biomarkers for risk assessment, prevention and early detection of lung cancer
    DNA repair biomarkers for risk assessment, prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer
    DNA repair biomarkers for risk assessment, prevention and early detection of pancreatic cancer

  • 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. Ziv Reich

    Prof. Ziv Reich

    Microbial diversity and evolution
    Phenotypic diversity and it's relation to environmental dynamics
    Lineage dynamics and it's relation to the environment
    Individual and community adaptation to novel conditions
    Electron microscopy studies of the structure of the thylakoid network under different conditions
    Plant Engineering
    Mechanisms of survival of resurrection plants
    Engineering drought resistant edible crops

  • 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.

  • Picture of Dr. Ofer Shoshani

    Dr. Ofer Shoshani

    Gene amplification in cancer
    Mechanisms driving gene amplification
    Gene amplification and therapy resistance
    Oncogene amplification and increased tumor aggressiveness
    Targeting gene amplification
    Cancer genome complexity
    Chromosome instability as a driver of cancer heterogeneity
    Aneuploidy and genome doubling in cancer

  • 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
    Molecular mechanisms of programmed necrotic cell death, and of its regulation

  • 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.