Andrei N. Lupas How Did the Three-Dimensional Structures of Proteins Evolve in Nature?

Andrei N. Lupas is Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. Between 1985 and 1990 he studied molecular biology at Princeton University (USA), where he received his PhD in 1991. In his research, Lupas concentrates on the evolution and classification of proteins, one of the essential building blocks of living cells. Lupas seeks to understand the folding process of the three dimensional structure which makes up the protein.

Area of Research

Developmental Biology

Andrei N. Lupas, Marc Van Dyke and Jeff Stock. "Predicting Coiled Coils from Protein Sequences." Science 252 (1991): 1162-1164.  
Erika Seemuller, Andrei N. Lupas, Daniela Stock and Jan Lowe. "Proteasome from Thermoplasma acidophilum: A Threonine Protease." Science 268 (1995): 579-582.  
Johannes Söding, Andreas Biegert and Andrei N. Lupas. "The HHpred Interactive Server for Protein Homology Detection and Structure Prediction." Nucleic Acids Research 33 (2005): 244-248.  
Michael Hulko, Franziska Berndt, Markus Gruber, Jürgen U. Linder, Vincent Truffault, Anita Schultz, Jörg Martin, Joachim E. Schultz, Andrei N. Lupas and Murray Coles. "The HAMP Domain Structure Implies Helix Rotation in Transmembrane Signaling." Cell 126 (2006): 929-940.  
Andreas Biegert, Christian Mayer, Michael Remmert, Johannes Söding and Andrei N. Lupas. "The MPI Bioinformatics Toolkit for Protein Sequence Analysis." Nucleic Acids Research 34 (2006): 335-339.  
Marcus D. Hartmann, Claudia T. Mendler, Jens Bassler, Ioanna Karamichali, Oswin Ridderbusch, Andrei N. Lupas and Birte Hernandez Alvarez. "Alpha/Beta Coiled Coils." eLife (2016): e11861.  

since 2001


Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology


Chairman of the Biology and Medicine Section

Max Planck Society


Committee for the Appointment of Max Planck Research Groups

Max Planck Society


Steering Committee of the Digital Information Program

Max Planck Society


Member of the Research Perspectives Committee of the Biology and Medicine Section

Max Planck Society


Assistant Director of Bioinformatics

GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, USA


Senior Computational Biologist

SmithKline Beecham, Collegeville, USA


Research Associate

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry


Postdoctoral Fellow

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Gene Center


Postdoctoral Fellow

Princeton University



Princeton University

Thesis "Mechanisms of Signal Transduction in Bacterial Chemotaxis"


"Vordiplom" in Biology

Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

"Contemporary biology covers an enormous scale, from research on basic cellular processes to predictions about global climate change. But this spectrum has not been continuous: while biologists have long known that organisms physically adapt to their natural environments, too often the underlying genetic, molecular and biochemical processes have remained a mystery. The MPI for Developmental Biology is uniquely poised to help close this gap. At the atomic level, we are investigating how protein machines work. At the molecular and subcellular level, we are studying how proteins and RNA molecules cooperate to regulate fundamental processes such as transcription, translation and signal transduction and how this is dependent on the location of proteins within the cell. At the tissue level, we are determining how cells interact to produce complex outcomes during development. Finally, at the organism level, we are asking how the naturally occurring interactions among microbes, plants and animals shape their genomes." (Source)


Proteins mediate a vast array of functions in the body, like fighting invaders or transporting oxygen. Their remarkable properties are due to their three-dimensional structure which is acquired by a simple chain of molecules, a polypeptide, folding into a complex structure, the protein. This folding process is still not fully understood and hence also difficult to replicate in a laboratory. To learn more about how it works the research presented by ANDREI N. LUPAS in this video looked into the evolution of folded proteins. By comparing protein sequences, they identified common ancestors and found simple processes, such as repetition, are instrumental in allowing these to yield folded proteins: By repeating peptides in molecule chains, the researchers managed to create polypeptides that folded into proteins with a high success rate.

LT Video Publication DOI:

A Vocabulary of Ancient Peptides at the Origin of Folded Proteins

  • Vikram Alva, Johannes Söding and Andrei N. Lupas
  • eLife
  • Published in 2015


Vikram Alva, Johannes Söding and Andrei N. Lupas. "A Vocabulary of Ancient Peptides at the Origin of Folded Proteins." eLife 4 (2015): e09410.