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Professor Dr

Franz Hofmann

Year of election: 2001
Section: Physiology and Pharmacology/Toxicology
City: Munich
Country: Germany

Research

Franz Hofmann started his scientific career in the early 70s, when he has done pioneering studies of the function, distribution and mechanisms of action of two highly important enzymes: the cAMP- and cGMP-dependent protein kinases. At that time, very few biochemists realized the importance of protein kinases in cell signalling. This work made a central contribution to the protein kinase field.

In the beginning of the 80's, Franz Hofmann showed that PKA modulated cardiac L-type Ca2+ current in vivo. In the following years, he contributed numerous channel clones to the channel field. Later achievements of Franz Hofmann were the cloning of a sodium channel, the cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, and the pacemaker channels (HCN). The discovery of its molecular structure facilitated an outstanding progress in understanding the processes controlling cardiac rhythm generation.

At the same time, he continued to study PKG. This work culminated in the cloning of the genes coding for the isoforms of this important enzyme and its substrate IRAG. Studies on transgenic mice showed that PKG is an important regulator of smooth muscle contractility and modulator of smooth muscle phenotype. Temporal and tissue-specific deletion of the Ca2+ channel revealed that the cardiac Ca2+ channel is the major regulator of cytosolic calcium concentration not only in heart and smooth muscle but also Langerhans islets and hippocampal neurons.

There is no doubt that the impact of his research on the contemporary cardiac and smooth muscle physiology, and in fact of physiology in general, is ever increasing and becomes in fact outstanding.

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