Research groupResearch Unit

Volker Haucke

Molecular Pharmacology and Cell Biology

Portrait Volker Haucke

Research in the laboratory is centered on the visualization and manipulation of the endocytic machinery and of endosomal membrane organization using a combination of biochemical, genetic, chemical, and optical imaging approaches with a particular focus on the nervous system.

How do cells communicate with each other?

Cells communicate with each other by secreting signaling molecules and recognizing those from other cells. For example, nerve cells release neurotransmitters contained in small membrane-bounded vesicles at synaptic cell contacts to elicit responses in neighburing cells. We are studying how nerve cells form and assemble synapses and how synaptic vesicles containing messenger substances are recycled to keep synapses up to speed in fractions of a second. If these processes are disrupted, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease may occur. Not only neurons, but almost all cells in our body release or respond to signaling molecules. Growth factors such as insulin and nutrients promote cell growth and division, while suppressing the degradation of metabolites. In cancer cells, this nutrient signaling pathway is often disturbed. We have deciphered cellular mechanisms that regulate nutrient signaling and thus the balance between cell growth and metabolite degradation. Understanding these mechanisms is essential for a better understanding of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In addition, we use this knowledge to develop new pharmacological approaches for the treatment of such diseases.

Our Research

In the Haucke laboratory we aim to understand cellular communication in health and disease at the level of membrane-enclosed compartments that dynamically exchange materials between them. Our main focus is on the analysis of the endocytic and endolysosomal systems in genome-engineered cells and in nerve tissue. The laboratory uses a broad range of techniques including biochemical and molecular biology approaches, super-resolution light and electron microscopy, chemical biology and screening technology, electrophysiology as well as genetic and genome engineering in cell-based models and in vivo.
The overarching goal of our research is to understand the basic principles that enable proteins and lipids to control membrane flux within cells and, thereby, regulate cell and tissue function with a focus on the nervous system. We use this know-how to develop novel strategies for pharmacological or genetic interference that can pave the way to cure diseases including epilepsy, neurodegeneration, lysosomal disorders, myopathies, and cancer.

Green Initiative

The Haucke lab is the first group in Germany to become certified by My Green Lab with the highest sustainable green level.
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Explaining the Recycling Process

Link to Webpage Latest Thinking How Does The Recycling Process Within Eukaryotic Cells Work on a Molecular Level?
(Copyright Latest Thinking)

Research Highlights


Please browse publications at Pubmed here

Contact Office

Kimberly Neuber

Secretary, Haucke Group

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Research Section

Molecular Physiology & Cell Biology

Group Members


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Job offers

Opening for PhD student or postdoc in neuroscience to study the mechanisms of presynaptic membrane turnover via autophagy and endolysosomes (Ref. 09/2023) The specific project is part of Research Unit SYNTOPHAGY (FOR 5228) and aims to dissect the mechanisms that control presynaptic membrane homeostasis. We seek highly motivated, ambitious, and talented young scientists to join an enthusiastic and collaborative team in an outstanding scientific environment to perform research. Please submit your complete application documents, containing a one-page letter with a personal statement describing your scientific accomplishments and your interests in our laboratory, your CV and bibliography as well as, contact information for 3 references, in electronic form as one single pdf-file via e-mail to Applications will be considered upon submission.