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

  • Versteven M, Vanden Broeck L, Geurten B, Zwarts L, Decraecker L, Beelen M, Göpfert MC, Heinrich R, Callaerts P (2017). Hearing regulates Drosophila aggression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 114, 1958 - 1963
  • Andrés M, Seifert M, Spalthoff C, Warren B, Weiss L, Giraldo D, Winkler M, Pauls S, Göpfert MC (2016). Auditory efferent system modulates mosquito hearing. Curr Biol 26, 2028 – 2036
  • Guo Y, Wang Y, Zhang W, Meltzer S, Zanini D, Yu Y, Li J, Cheng T, Guo Z, Wang Q, Jacobs JS, Sharma Y, Eberl DF, Göpfert MC, Jan LY, Jan YN, Wang Z (2016) Transmembrane channel-like (tmc) gene regulates Drosophila larval locomotion. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 113, 7243 -7248
  • Göpfert MC, Hennig RM (2016). Hearing in Insects. Annu Rev Entomol 61, 257-276
  • Zhang W, Cheng LE, Kittelmann M, Li J, Petkovic M, Cheng T, Jin P, Guo Z, Göpfert MC, Jan LY, Jan YN. (2015) Ankyrin repeats convey force to gate the NOMPC mechanotransduction channel. Cell 162, 1391 - 1403
  • 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
  • Andres M, Göpfert MC (2014) Neuronal osmotransduction: push-activating TRPV1 with microtubules. Dev Cell 30, 363 - 364
  • Matz, A, Shih JL, Schwedhelm- Domeyer N, Zanini D, Holubowska A, Kannan MV, Farnworth M, Jahn O, Göpfert MC, Stegmüller J (2014) Regulation of neuronal survival and morphology by the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF157. Cell Death Diff 22, 626-42
  • Zanini D, Göpfert MC (2013) Mechanosensation: tethered ion channels. Curr Biol 23, R349 – 351
  • 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