Göttingen Graduate School for Neurosciences, Biophysics, and Molecular Biosciences
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Göpfert, Martin, Prof. Dr.

Professor for Cellular Neurobiology

  • 2008 Full Professor for Cellular Neurobiology, University of Göttingen

  • 2008 Associate Professor for Molecular Biology and Biophysics of Sensory Systems, University of Cologne

  • 2003-2008 Independent group leader, Volkswagen Foundation Group
    ‘Active auditory mechanics in insects’, Dept. Animal Physiology,
    University of Cologne

  • 2002-2003 Royal Society University Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol

  • 1998-2002 DAAD and Leopoldina Research Fellow, Dept. Neurobiology,
    University of Zürich and School of Biological Sciences, University of

  • 1998 Degree in Biology, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg

Major Research Interests

Our group studies fundamental processes in hearing. By combining
mechanical measurements with genetics, molecular biology,
immunohistochemistry, electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and
biophysical modelling, we are trying to decipher how molecular
processes shape the performance of an ear. Our preferred model system
is the hearing organ of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the
auditory sensory cells of which share conserved molecular modules with
the hair cells in our ears.

Our work has uncovered striking parallels between fly and vertebrate
hearing, including the functional equivalence of the auditory
transduction and adaptation machineries, the motility of auditory
sensory cells, transducer-based force generation, and the expression of
homologous genes. Our work also provided first insights into the
diverse roles of –and interactions between- transient receptor
potential (TRP) ion channels in hearing, and a model of TRP-function in
the fly’s auditory system has been devised. Using a novel electrostatic
actuation method, we were able to identify hair cell-like signatures of
transducer gating and adaptation in the fly’s auditory mechanics and
could show that a simple transduction model as proposed to describe
hair cell mechanics comprehensively explains the macroscopic behaviour
of an ear. Based on these findings, we are currently devising a
computational model that allows for the high-throughput
characterization of genetic hearing defects. Candidate genes for
hearing, in turn, are narrowed down by expression profiling using
whole-genome microarrays. By testing how these genes contribute to
auditory function and performance, we aim for a comprehensive
molecules-to-system description of the functional workings of an ear.

Homepage Department/Research Group


Selected Recent Publications

  • Zhang W, Cheng LE, Kittelmann M, Li J, Petkovic M, Cheng T, Jin P, Guo Z, Göpfert MC, Jan L, Jan YN (2015) Ankyrin repeats act as a tether for conveying force to gate the NOMPC mechanotransduction channel. Cell, in press

  • Nesterov A, Spalthoff C, Kandasamy R, Katana R, Rankl NB, Andres A, Jähde P, Dorsch JA, Stam LF, Braun F-J, Warren B, Salgado VL, Göpfert MC (2015) TRP channels in insect stretch receptors as insecticide targets. Neuron 83, 665 ? 671

  • Albert JT, Göpfert MC (2015) Hearing in Drosophila. Curr Opin Neurobiol 34C, 79 ?85

  • Geurten BR, Jähde P, Corthals K, Göpfert MC (2014) Saccadic body turns in walking Drosophila. Front Behav Neurosci 8, 365

  • Andres M, Göpfert MC (2014) Neuronal osmotransduction: push-activating TRPV1 with microtubules. Dev Cell 30, 363 ? 364

  • Zanini D, Göpfert MC (2013) Mechanosensation: tethered ion channels. Curr Biol 23, R349 ?351

  • Greggers U, Koch G, Schmidt V, Dürr A, Floriou-Servou A, Piepenbrock D, Göpfert MC, Menzel R (2013) Reception and learning of electric fields in bees. Proc Biol Sci 280, 20130528

  • Effertz T, Nadrowski B, Piepenbrock D, Albert JT, Göpfert MC (2012) Direct gating and mechanical integrity of Drosophila auditory transducers requires TRPN1. Nat Neurosci 15, 1198 ? 1200

  • Senthilan PR, Piepenbrock D, Ovezmyradov G, Nadrowski B, Bechstedt S, Pauls S, Winkler M, Möbius W, Howard J, Göpfert MC (2012) Drosophila auditory organ genes and genetic hearing defects. Cell 150, 1042 ? 1054

ggnb gopfert


Prof. Dr. Martin Göpfert
Dept. of Cellular Neurobiology
Schwann-Schleiden Research Centre
Julia-Lermontowa-Weg 3
37077 Göttingen

Tel.: +49-(0)551-39 177 955
Fax: +49-(0)551-39 177 952
e-mail: mgoepfe@gwdg.de

GGNB Affiliation

Neurosciences (IMPRS)
Sensory and Motor Neuroscience
Theoretical and Computational Neur

Genes and Development