Professional Education

  • Vordiplom, Technische Universitat Berlin (2007)
  • Diplom, Technische Universitat Berlin (2009)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Technische Universitat Berlin (2013)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • The C-Terminal VPRTES Tail of LL-37 Influences the Mode of Attachment to a Lipid Bilayer and Antimicrobial Activity. Biochemistry de Miguel Catalina, A., Forbrig, E., Kozuch, J., Nehls, C., Paulowski, L., Gutsmann, T., Hildebrandt, P., Mroginski, M. A. 2019


    Cathelicidins are a family of host defense antimicrobial peptides in mammalian species. Among them, LL-37 is the only peptide of this family found in humans. Although LL-37 has been intensively investigated in the past, the mode of exerting its bactericidal activity through the specific interactions with bacterial membranes remains elusive. In this work, we combined microbiological and computational approaches with a tool box of experimental biophysical techniques, including conventional and surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy as well as fluorescence spectroscopy to characterize the structural and dynamic properties of LL-37 and shorter variants adsorbed on POPC/POPG (9:1) lipid bilayers as mimics of bacterial membranes. First, microbiological assays demonstrate that, while LL-32 and, in a lesser degree, LL-37 show hemolysis and antimicrobial activity, LL-20 remains practically inactive. Second, by comparing experimental and computational data of LL-37 with LL-20, we explained the bactericidal activity of the active peptide core as a consequence of an increased flexibility of the peptide structure, leading to reactive dangling charged side chains. Third, permeabilization assays showed a concentration-dependent membrane disruption activity of LL-37 and LL-32: at high peptide concentrations, LL-32 shows higher activity than LL-37, while, at low peptide concentrations, both peptides show similar activities. Responsible for this behavior is the C-terminal VPRTES tail (Ct-VPRTES tail), which, according to atomistic simulations, is able to promote the insertion of the peptide in the membrane and plays an essential role in controlling ordered peptide oligomerization on the surface of the membrane.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b01297

    View details for PubMedID 31016971

  • On the pH-Modulated Ru-Based Prodrug Activation Mechanism INORGANIC CHEMISTRY Caterino, M., Herrmann, M., Merlino, A., Riccardi, C., Montesarchio, D., Mroginski, M. A., Musumeci, D., Ruffo, F., Paduano, L., Hildebrandt, P., Kozuch, J., Vergara, A. 2019; 58 (2): 1216–23
  • Long-Range Modulations of Electric Fields in Proteins. The journal of physical chemistry. B Biava, H., Schreiber, T., Katz, S., Voller, J., Stolarski, M., Schulz, C., Michael, N., Budisa, N., Kozuch, J., Utesch, T., Hildebrandt, P. 2018


    Electrostatic interactions are essential for controlling the protein structure and function. Whereas so far experimental and theoretical efforts focused on the effect of local electrostatics, this work aims at elucidating the long-range modulation of electric fields in proteins upon binding to charged surfaces. The study is based on cytochrome c (Cytc) variants carrying nitrile reporters for the vibrational Stark effect that are incorporated into the protein via genetic engineering and chemical modification. The Cytc variants were thoroughly characterized with respect to possible structural perturbations due to labeling. For the proteins in solution, the relative hydrogen bond occupancy and the calculated electric fields, both obtained from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and the experimental nitrile stretching frequencies were used to develop a relationship for separating hydrogen-bonding and non-hydrogen-bonding electric field effects. This relationship provides an excellent description for the stable Cytc variants in solution. For the proteins bound to Au electrodes coated with charged self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), the underlying MD simulations can only account for the electric field changes Delta Eads due to the formation of the electrostatic SAM-Cytc complexes but not for the additional contribution, Delta Eint, representing the consequences of the potential drops over the electrode/SAM/protein interfaces. Both Delta Eads and Delta Eint, determined at distances between 20 and 30 A with respect to the SAM surface, are comparable in magnitude to the non-hydrogen-bonding electric field in the unbound protein. This long-range modulation of the internal electric field may be of functional relevance for proteins in complexes with partner proteins (Delta Eads) and attached to membranes (Delta Eads + Delta Eint).

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcb.8b03870

    View details for PubMedID 30109934

  • In Situ Spectroelectrochemical Studies into the Formation and Stability of Robust Diazonium-Derived Interfaces on Gold Electrodes for the Immobilization of an Oxygen-Tolerant Hydrogenase. ACS applied materials & interfaces Harris, T. G., Heidary, N., Kozuch, J., Frielingsdorf, S., Lenz, O., Mroginski, M., Hildebrandt, P., Zebger, I., Fischer, A. 2018


    Surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy is used in situ to determine the electrochemical stability of organic interfaces deposited onto the surface of nanostructured, thin-film gold electrodes via the electrochemical reduction of diazonium salts. These interfaces are shown to exhibit a wide electrochemical stability window in both acetonitrile and phosphate buffer, far surpassing the stability window of thiol-derived self-assembled monolayers. Using the same in situ technique, the application of radical scavengers during the electrochemical reduction of diazonium salts is shown to moderate interface formation. Consequently, the heterogeneous charge-transfer resistance can be reduced sufficiently to enhance the direct electron transfer between an immobilized redox-active enzyme and the electrode. This was demonstrated for the oxygen-tolerant [NiFe] hydrogenase from the "Knallgas" bacterium Ralstonia eutropha by relating its electrochemical activity for hydrogen oxidation to the interface properties.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsami.8b02273

    View details for PubMedID 29943966

  • Catalytic Activity and Proton Translocation of Reconstituted Respiratory Complex I Monitored by Surface-Enhanced Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy LANGMUIR Gutierrez-Sanz, O., Forbig, E., Batista, A. P., Pereira, M. M., Salewski, J., Mroginski, M. A., Goetz, R., De Lacey, A. L., Kozuch, J., Zebger, I. 2018; 34 (20): 5703–11


    Respiratory complex I (CpI) is a key player in the way organisms obtain energy, being an energy transducer, which couples nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH)/quinone oxidoreduction with proton translocation by a mechanism that remains elusive so far. In this work, we monitored the function of CpI in a biomimetic, supported lipid membrane system assembled on a 4-aminothiophenol (4-ATP) self-assembled monolayer by surface-enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy. 4-ATP serves not only as a linker molecule to a nanostructured gold surface but also as pH sensor, as indicated by concomitant density functional theory calculations. In this way, we were able to monitor NADH/quinone oxidoreduction-induced transmembrane proton translocation via the protonation state of 4-ATP, depending on the net orientation of CpI molecules induced by two complementary approaches. An associated change of the amide I/amide II band intensity ratio indicates conformational modifications upon catalysis which may involve movements of transmembrane helices or other secondary structural elements, as suggested in the literature [ Di Luca , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. , 2017 , 114 , E6314 - E6321 ].

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b04057

    View details for Web of Science ID 000433403900003

    View details for PubMedID 29553272

  • Hydrogen evolution by cobalt hangman porphyrins under operating conditions studied by vibrational spectro-electrochemistry CATALYSIS SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Kielb, P., Horch, M., Wrzolek, P., Goetz, R., Ly, K. H., Kozuch, J., Schwalbe, M., Weidinger, I. M. 2018; 8 (7): 1849–57

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c7cy02253k

    View details for Web of Science ID 000432082800008

  • Monitoring the Orientational Changes of Alamethicin during Incorporation into Bilayer Lipid Membranes Langmuir Forbrig, E., Staffa, J. K., Salewski, J., Mroginski, M., Hildebrandt, P., Kozuch, J. 2018; 34 (6): 2373–2385


    Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are the first line of defense after contact of an infectious invader, for example, bacterium or virus, with a host and an integral part of the innate immune system of humans. Their broad spectrum of biological functions ranges from cell membrane disruption over facilitation of chemotaxis to interaction with membrane-bound or intracellular receptors, thus providing novel strategies to overcome bacterial resistances. Especially, the clarification of the mechanisms and dynamics of AMP incorporation into bacterial membranes is of high interest, and different mechanistic models are still under discussion. In this work, we studied the incorporation of the peptaibol alamethicin (ALM) into tethered bilayer lipid membranes on electrodes in combination with surface-enhanced infrared absorption (SEIRA) spectroscopy. This approach allows monitoring the spontaneous and potential-induced ion channel formation of ALM in situ. The complex incorporation kinetics revealed a multistep mechanism that points to peptide-peptide interactions prior to penetrating the membrane and adopting the transmembrane configuration. On the basis of the anisotropy of the backbone amide I and II infrared absorptions determined by density functional theory calculations, we employed a mathematical model to evaluate ALM reorientations monitored by SEIRA spectroscopy. Accordingly, ALM was found to adopt inclination angles of ca. 69°-78° and 21° in its interfacially adsorbed and transmembrane incorporated states, respectively. These orientations can be stabilized efficiently by the dipolar interaction with lipid head groups or by the application of a potential gradient. The presented potential-controlled mechanistic study suggests an N-terminal integration of ALM into membranes as monomers or parallel oligomers to form ion channels composed of parallel-oriented helices, whereas antiparallel oligomers are barred from intrusion.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b04265

  • Switchable Redox Chemistry of the Hexameric Tyrosine-Coordinated Heme Protein JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Kielb, P., Utesch, T., Kozuch, J., Jeoung, J., Dobbek, H., Mroginski, M. A., Hildebrandt, P., Weidinger, I. 2017; 121 (16): 3955-3964


    Hexameric tyrosine-coordinated heme protein HTHP from Silicibacter pomeroyi has been shown to exhibit peroxidase- and catalase-like activity. In the present study, detailed spectroscopic and electrochemical investigations were performed to analyze the redox properties and active site structure of HTHP. Potentiometric titration of HTHP in solution revealed a single redox transition at -0.54 V (vs Ag/AgCl), indicating six structurally identical tyrosine coordinates hemes. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) of immobilized HTHP afforded a distinctly more positive redox potential (-0.17 V) but failed to detect a transition at -0.54 V. Conversely, surface enhanced RR (SERR) spectroscopy provided evidence for both high- and low-potential transitions and for a partial loss of heme in the reduced state. The high-potential CV-active redox transition is attributed to the hemes of the barrel-shaped HTHP in a wheel-like orientation on the surface. Supported by coarse-grained simulations and SERR spectroscopy, the majority of HTHP is concluded to adopt a reverse-disc orientation, accounting for the low-potential transition. In view of the striking similarity of HTHP to the heme carriers HasA or HmbR regarding redox potential, Fe-Tyr ligation, and heme release, we propose heme transport as an alternative or additional function.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcb.7b01286

    View details for Web of Science ID 000400534200006

    View details for PubMedID 28383909

  • Determination of the Local Electric Field at Au/SAM Interfaces Using the Vibrational Stark Effect J. Phys. Chem. C Staffa, J. K., Lorenz, L., Stolarski, M., Murgida, D. H., Zebger, I., Utesch, T., Kozuch, J., Hildebrandt, P. 2017; 121 (40): 22274–22285

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b08434

  • Monitoring the Transmembrane Proton Gradient Generated by Cytochrome bo(3) in Tethered Bilayer Lipid Membranes Using SEIRA Spectroscopy JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Wiebalck, S., Kozuch, J., Forbrig, E., Tzschucke, C. C., Jeuken, L. J., Hildebrandt, P. 2016; 120 (9): 2249-2256


    Membrane proteins act as biocatalysts or ion/proton pumps to convert and store energy from ubiquitous environmental sources. Interfacing these proteins to electrodes allows utilizing the energy for enzymatic biofuel cells or other auspicious biotechnological applications. To optimize the efficiency of these devices, appropriate membrane models are required that ensure structural and functional integrity of the embedded enzymes and provide structural insight. We present a spectroelectrochemical surface-enhanced infrared absorption (SEIRA) and electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) study of the bacterial respiratory ubiquinol/cytochrome bo3 (cyt bo3) couple incorporated into a tethered bilayer lipid membrane (tBLM). Here, we employed a new lipid tether (WK3SH, dihydrocholesteryl (2-(2-(2-ethoxy)ethoxy)ethanethiol), which was synthesized using a three-step procedure with very good yield and allowed measuring IR spectra without significant spectral interference of the tBLM. The functional integrity of the incorporated cyt bo3 was demonstrated by monitoring the enzymatic O2 reduction current and the formation of the transmembrane proton gradient. Based on a SEIRA-spectroscopic redox titration, a shift of the pH-dependent redox potential of the ubiquinones under turnover conditions was correlated with an alkalinization of the submembrane reservoir by +0.8 pH units. This study demonstrates the high potential of tBLMs and the SEIRA spectroscopic approach to study bioenergetic processes.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b01435

    View details for Web of Science ID 000372042000020

    View details for PubMedID 26898921

  • Calculating average surface enhancement factors of randomly nanostructured electrodes by a combination of SERS and impedance spectroscopy PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS Kozuch, J., Petrusch, N., Gkogkou, D., Gernert, U., Weidinger, I. M. 2015; 17 (33): 21220-21225


    Polyhedron Ag nanostructures were created on top of a polished Au electrode via step-wise electrodeposition and tested as substrates for SERS spectroscopy. Average Raman enhancement factors were derived by combining SERS measurements with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), which is able to determine the electroactive surface area of a randomly nanostructured surface. Depending on the deposition step an alternating increase and decrease of surface area was observed while the SERS intensity showed a clear maximum for the first deposition cycle. SEM pictures reveal the formation of Ag polyhedrons that are randomly dispersed on the Au surface. Furthermore the presence of a sub nanostructure on top of the polyhedron after the first deposition cycle is observed which becomes smoother after subsequent deposition cycles. Correlating the SEM pictures with SERS and EIS measurements it is concluded that the coral-like sub nanostructure is dominating the enhancement factor while the polyhedron structure itself only plays a minor role for electromagnetic field enhancement.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c4cp05015k

    View details for Web of Science ID 000359596600021

    View details for PubMedID 25599525

  • 2nd coordination sphere controlled electron transfer of iron hangman complexes on electrodes probed by surface enhanced vibrational spectroscopy CHEMICAL SCIENCE Ly, H. K., Wrzolek, P., Heidary, N., Goetz, R., Horch, M., Kozuch, J., Schwalbe, M., Weidinger, I. M. 2015; 6 (12): 6999-7007

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c5sc02560e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000365225300037

  • Voltage-dependent structural changes of the membrane-bound anion channel hVDAC1 probed by SEIRA and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS Kozuch, J., Weichbrodt, C., Millo, D., Giller, K., Becker, S., Hildebrandt, P., Steinem, C. 2014; 16 (20): 9546-9555


    The voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) is a transmembrane protein that regulates the transfer of metabolites between the cytosol and the mitochondrium. Opening and partial closing of the channel is known to be driven by the transmembrane potential via a mechanism that is not fully understood. In this work, we employed a spectroelectrochemical approach to probe the voltage-induced molecular structure changes of human VDAC1 (hVDAC1) embedded in a tethered bilayer lipid membrane on a nanostructured Au electrode. The model membrane consisted of a mixed self-assembled monolayer of 6-mercaptohexanol and (cholesterylpolyethylenoxy)thiol, followed by the deposition of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine vesicles including hVDAC1. The stepwise assembly of the model membrane and the incorporation of hVDAC1 were monitored by surface enhanced infrared absorption and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Difference spectra allowed for identifying the spectral changes which may be associated with the transition from the open to the "closed" states by shifting the potential above or below the transmembrane potential determined to be ca. 0.0 V vs. the open circuit potential. These spectral changes were interpreted on the basis of the orientation- and distance-dependent IR enhancement and indicate alterations of the inclination angle of the β-strands as crucial molecular events, reflecting an expansion or contraction of the β-barrel pore. These protein structural changes that do not confirm nor exclude the reorientation of the α-helix are either directly induced by the electric field or a consequence of a potential-dependent repulsion or attraction of the bilayer.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c4cp00167b

    View details for Web of Science ID 000335818600039

    View details for PubMedID 24728177

  • Potential-Dependent Surface-Enhanced Resonance Raman Spectroscopy at Nanostructured TiO2 : A Case Study on Cytochrome b(5) SMALL Han, X. X., Koehler, C., Kozuch, J., Kuhlmann, U., Paasche, L., Sivanesan, A., Weidinger, I. M., Hildebrandt, P. 2013; 9 (24): 4175-4181


    Nanostructured titanium dioxide (TiO2 ) electrodes, prepared by anodization of titanium, are employed to probe the electron-transfer process of cytochrome b5 (cyt b5 ) by surface-enhanced resonance Raman (SERR) spectroscopy. Concomitant with the increased nanoscopic surface roughness of TiO2 , achieved by raising the anodization voltage from 10 to 20 V, the enhancement factor increases from 2.4 to 8.6, which is rationalized by calculations of the electric field enhancement. Cyt b5 is immobilized on TiO2 under preservation of its native structure but it displays a non-ideal redox behavior due to the limited conductivity of the electrode material. The electron-transfer efficiency which depends on the crystalline phase of TiO2 has to be improved by appropriate doping for applications in bioelectrochemistry.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.201301070

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328453300012

    View details for PubMedID 23861351

  • Resonance Raman Characterization of the Ammonia-Generated Oxo Intermediate of Cytochrome c Oxidase from Paracoccus denitrificans BIOCHEMISTRY Kozuch, J., von der Hocht, I., Hilbers, F., Michel, H., Weidinger, I. M. 2013; 52 (36): 6197-6202


    A novel oxo state of cytochrome c oxidase from Paracoccus denitrificans generated by successive addition of excess H2O2 and ammonia was investigated using resonance Raman (RR) spectroscopy. Addition of ammonia to the H2O2-generated artificial F state resulted in an upshift of the oxoferryl stretching vibration from 790 to 796 cm(-1), indicating that ammonia influences ligation of the heme-bound oxygen in the binuclear center. Concomitantly performed RR measurements in the high-frequency region between 1300 and 1700 cm(-1) showed a high-spin to low-spin transition of heme a3 upon generation of the F state that was not altered by addition of ammonia. Removal of H2O2 by addition of catalase resulted in the disappearance of the oxoferryl stretching vibration and major back transformation of heme a3 into the high-spin state. The ratio of high-spin to low-spin states was identical for intermediates created with and without ammonia, leading to the conclusion that ammonia does not interact directly with heme a3. Only for the ammonia-created state was a band at 612 nm observed in the UV-visible difference spectrum that was shifted to 608 nm after addition of catalase. Our results support the hypothesis by von der Hocht et al. [von der Hocht, I., et al. (2011) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108, 3964-3969] that addition of ammonia creates a novel oxo intermediate state called PN where ammonia binds to CuB once the oxo intermediate F state has been formed.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/bi400535m

    View details for Web of Science ID 000330099900007

    View details for PubMedID 23914722

  • Tailored silica coated Ag nanoparticles for non-invasive surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy of biomolecular targets RSC ADVANCES Sivanesan, A., Kozuch, J., Ly, H. K., Kalaivani, G., Fischer, A., Weidinger, I. M. 2012; 2 (3): 805-808

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c1ra00781e

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299177000009

  • Combined Electrochemistry and Surface-Enhanced Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy of Gramicidin A Incorporated into Tethered Bilayer Lipid Membranes ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION Kozuch, J., Steinem, C., Hildebrandt, P., Millo, D. 2012; 51 (32): 8114-8117

    View details for DOI 10.1002/anie.201203214

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307215600054

    View details for PubMedID 22865570

  • Functionalized Ag nanoparticles with tunable optical properties for selective protein analysis CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS Sivanesan, A., Ly, H. K., Kozuch, J., Sezer, M., Kuhlmann, U., Fischer, A., Weidinger, I. M. 2011; 47 (12): 3553-3555


    We present a preparation procedure for small sized biocompatibly coated Ag nanoparticles with tunable surface plasmon resonances. The conditions were optimised with respect to the resonance Raman signal enhancement of heme proteins and to the preservation of the native protein structure.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c0cc05058j

    View details for Web of Science ID 000288085600065

    View details for PubMedID 21321696