Research


Biophysical Methods

While all faculty apply biophysical methods to biological questions, some of the faculty also work on development of methods.

Rieko Ishima, NMR spectroscopy
Angela Gronenborn, NMR spectroscopy

Joanne Yeh, X-ray crystallography methods including in-situ annealing, rational crystallization methods
James Conway, Cryo-electron microscopy
Peijun Zhang, Cryo-electron microscopy

Guillermo Calero, X-ray crystallography, dynamic light scattering

Patrick van der Wel, Solid state NMR spectroscopy


Gene Regulation & Signaling

Gene regulation and signaling are fundamental biological processes of interest to many faculty.

Peijun Zhang, Mechanisms of signal transduction by membrane receptors

Angela Gronenborn, Structural basis of signaling & gene regulation by NMR

Guillermo Calero, Structural and biochemical studies of the transcriptional machinery (RNA PolII and the general transcription factors)


Lipid Structure & Protein Interactions

Lipid membranes are among the most ubiquitous cellular structure among organisms. Understanding how lipids achieve their structural and chemical integrity remains an area of active investigation. Research in this area examines lipids from a structural and functional perspective. Interactions between lipids and proteins are crucial and serve to stabilize, functionalize, and regulate membrane and peripherally-associated proteins.

Joanne Yeh, Crystal structure and biophysical characterization of membrane proteins

Patrick van der Wel, Structural and biophysical characterization of protein-lipid interactions by solid state NMR


Macromolecular Recognition

Research in this area is focused on elucidating the mechanisms of interaction between molecules, enzyme-substrate, protein-DNA, and protein-ligand. These studies focus on detailed characterization of the exquisite specificity between molecules and how this is achieved, from the point of recognition to attaining high affinity. Additional studies focus on mechanisms by which reactions proceed, from a structural perspective.

Angela Gronenborn, Structure, dynamics and energetics of protein-carbohydrate interactions

Joanne Yeh, Protein-protein Interactions between membrane channels and proteins and signaling partners


Principles of Protein Structure & Dynamics

Structural biology is undergoing a quiet revolution. Despite the thousands of high resolution – but static – protein structures now available in the Protein Data Bank, scientists have broadly recognized that many biochemical questions about these proteins remain open. The reason is simple. By and large, proteins are machines that perform their jobs by moving – rendering a static view incomplete. Using both experimental and computational approaches, a number of the training faculty have turned their attention to the study of fluctuations and dynamics in biomolecules. Techniques include NMR, Raman spectroscopy, coarse-grained computational modeling and other advanced molecular simulation approaches.

Angela Gronenborn, Structural basis of signaling & gene regulations
Pei Tang, NMR & computations of protein structures, dynamics & drug effects

Patrick van der Wel, Characterization of structure and formation of amyloid fibrils by solid state NMR


Structure & Dynamics of Membrane Proteins

Research in this area involves structural, biochemical, and pharmacological characterization of integral membrane proteins. The major objectives of these studies are to determine the mechanism by which these critical proteins function in the context of the lipid membrane, which serves both as a barrier and a unique environment. These studies address questions pertinent to fundamental biology: how is a signal transduced across the membrane; how is selectivity and high permeation maintained by a membrane channel; what are the mechanisms to regulate the activity of the membrane protein? To address these questions, advanced modern approaches of X-ray crystallography, NMR, electron microscopy, and computational analysis are used.

Peijun Zhang, High-resolution cryo-electron microscopy of macromolecular assemblies

Joanne Yeh, X-ray crystal structures and functional studies of membrane receptors and channels

Pei Tang, NMR & computations of membrane protein structures, dynamics & drug effects

Yan Xu, NMR of ion channels & low-affinity drug action

Guillermo Calero, Structural and biochemical studies of membrane signaling pathways

Patrick van der Wel, Structural and biophysical characterization of protein-lipid interactions by solid state NMR


Virus Protein Structure

Virus structure, assembly, function and evolution are investigated by a growing group of researchers.

James Conway, Virus structure with cryo-electron microscopy

Angela Gronenborn, HIV proteins and their interactions

Rieko Ishima, HIV protease structure and dynamics
Peijun Zhang, HIV capsid assembly, maturation and interactions with host cell factors using cryo-electron microscopy