All newly-synthesized polypeptides have to be folded into their three-dimensional structures to be functional. Many proteins have to reach destinations other than the cytosol, the site where protein synthesis occurs. In addition, a majority of proteins undergo post-translational modification in response to a wide variety of cellular signals. Therefore, understanding the mechanism and regulation of protein folding, protein translocation, and protein processing is an integral part of modern molecular and cell biology. In addition, errors in these processes cause diseases ranging from Alzheimer's to diabetes. Protein folding and processing is one of the major research focuses in our department. Faculty in this area engage in a number of research topics including the unfolded protein response, the human blood clotting system, the structure and function of molecular chaperones, the heat shock response, protein misfolding in aging and disease, yeast pheromone processing, protein transport in the secretory pathway, protein targeting, organelle biogenesis, and protein design and engineering.
Protein interactions and the role of post-translational modifications in controlling these interactions
Mechanisms of membrane-bound protein quality control systems
Protein-protein and protein-membrane interactions involved in membrane trafficking and organelle structure
Biochemistry of the human blood clotting system; structural studies of protein-membrane complexes
Interactions and processing of proteins involved in heme metabolism, the circadian clock, the global carbon cycle, and methylmercury
Structural biology and molecular mechanisms of protein folding and trafficking in eukaryotic cells