Protein structure

Nature has evolved active bio-architectures that are both dynamic and responsive individually as well as collectively when assembled into hierarchical structures. In fact, dynamic protein regions are responsible for biological mineral nucleation, surface recognition, chemical reactivity, and targeting. The concerted protein motion that is part of a multi-component biomolecular complex is rarely obvious from the high resolution three-dimensional structure. Protein function is intimately connected to dynamics and therefore knowledge of the frequency, range, and coordination of motion by supramolecular complexes is critical to understanding function and the development of bio-inspired nanomaterials. The extremely large size and icosahedral architecture of virus capsids limit the use of many standard techniques for studying protein motion such as NMR and FRET. To overcome these problems, we employ an array of biophysical techniques to study the solution phase behavior of viruses. Kinetic hydrolysis, an approach being developed in our lab, is a straight-forward and powerful technique for identifying the dynamic regions within a single protein or in the context of a multi-component complex. Protein dynamics is being investigated at three levels: the dynamics of the subunit, the assembled cage architecture, and the dynamics associated with higher order particle/particle and surface/particle interactions. The long-term goal of this effort is to understand dynamics of the nanoparticle/cage system at each distinct level of complexity so that the underlying mechanism of nucleation, recognition, and functionality can be elucidated and exploited. This work is being conducted in collaboration with other research groups in the Center for Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials. 
Graduate students: Navid Movahed and Vamseedhar Rayaprolu. 



Analytical, Biochemistry, Biophysical, Protein Chemistry, Structure