Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 36 | 2. Mai 2023

Priority Programme “Integration of mitochondria into the cellular proteostasis network” (SPP 2453)

In March 2023, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Integration of mitochondria into the cellular proteostasis network” (SPP 2453). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

Mitochondrial functions and biogenesis depend on the import of more than 1000 proteins that are produced as precursors on cytosolic ribosomes. The vast majority of mitochondrial proteins are imported in a post-translational manner. After synthesis on ribosomes, molecular chaperones guide these proteins to the mitochondrial surface. Despite some progress in the last years, the mechanisms of protein targeting to mitochondria and its quality control are poorly understood. Recent studies have revealed that non-imported mitochondrial precursor proteins challenge the cytosolic proteostasis system, particularly in cells with defective mitochondrial functions, linking mitochondrial fitness to cellular viability. Conversely, perturbations of the proteostasis network can cause accumulation of mitochondrial precursor proteins and affect mitochondrial biogenesis. In this priority programme, we will combine the expertise from two different fields, mitochondrial protein import and cellular proteostasis, to allow the analysis of molecular mechanisms that govern targeting and quality control of mitochondrial precursor proteins. We will use and further develop advanced technologies to elucidate the interplay of mitochondrial biogenesis with cellular proteostasis using three defined model systems (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, cultured mammalian cells and Caenorhabditis elegans).

The overarching goal of this priority programme is to uncover the molecular principles of quality control mechanisms for the intracellular targeting of mitochondrial precursor proteins and their fate in case of ineffective targeting or import. Projects should address one of the following questions:

  • What are the molecular mechanisms that ensure the reliable intracellular transport of precursor proteins to mitochondria?
  • How do quality control factors of different cellular compartments cooperate to remove non-imported mitochondrial proteins?
  • How do proteostasis network components such as chaperones or proteases support dynamic changes of the mitochondrial proteome upon adaption to specific cellular demands?

The priority programme will exclusively fund tandem projects combining one expert from the mitochondrial protein import field and one expert from the cellular proteostasis field.
To maintain the focus on this priority programme, we do not aim to fund:

  • Predominantly descriptive projects that lack a focus on molecular mechanisms.
  • Research projects that are not directly related to mitochondrial precursor proteins, such as studies analysing mitophagy, apoptosis or antiviral signalling. The focus of the priority programme is centered on targeting and quality control of mitochondrial precursor proteins.

There will be a “round table” meeting on 11 July 2023 to facilitate the formation of tandem projects for this priority programme. The meeting will be held in Bonn. Researchers who are interested in this preparatory meeting should contact the coordinator of the Priority Programme for further information. Registration deadline for the “round table” is 31 May 2023.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 31 October 2023. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2453” from the current list of calls.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (DFG form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (DFG form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 24 October 2023 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

Further Information

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries, please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Thomas Becker
    Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
    Medizinische Fakultät
    Institut für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie
    Nußallee 11, 53115 Bonn
    Tel. +49 228 73-2900

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact: