2019 research activities
The scientific activities in the department of biological chemistry span several areas in the Life Sciences. The common thread is the study of the biochemistry of life and disease. Emphasis is given to the examination of proteins, whether soluble or membrane-bound, and their key biological functions and we seek a molecular understanding of their evolution, cellular interactions, structures and functions. A variety of biochemical, biophysical, structural, molecular-biological, and state of the art imaging methodologies are employed in our department. Overlapping interests and inter-group cooperations signify the spirit of our research. The department has more than 20 research groups whose activities are centered around the following foci of interest:
- Protein science and macromolecular machines. Several groups investigate the basic principles governing protein-protein interactions; composition, assembly, and architecture of multi-enzyme and other large complexes; catalytic mechanisms and the evolution of proteins and enzymes. A major aim is to understand how the findings relate to intricate biological processes.
- DNA and regulation of gene expression. Various aspects of nucleic acids research are addressed in our department including: DNA repair and mutagenesis in mammals; basal and activated transcription; specific gene expression in the pancreas; phylogenetic analysis of accumulated somatic mutations.
- Structure, function, and biogenesis of membrane proteins. We investigate important integral membrane proteins on the biochemical, biophysical, structural, and physiological levels. This includes Na+ and K+ channels, Na+/K+ ATPase and its FXYD protein regulators, multidrug transporters, intra-membrane proteases, and peptides that integrate into membranes in various systems.
- Membranes, lipids, and organelle structure, function, and biogenesis. Studies in our department include the biosynthetic pathway of membrane proteins; intracellular protein traffic, especially during the process of autophagy; lysosome biogenesis and lipid homeostasis; Calcium homeostasis; and, assembly and function of membrane proteins involved in the immune response, infectious diseases, and viral envelopes.
- Signaling within and between cells. Several researchers in the department are interested in problems related to signal transduction. Cell guidance and navigation; axon guidance; cell death and tissue damage; long distance intracellular signaling; regulation of expression of virulence factors; regulation of the circadian rhythm; epigenetic gene silencing; epigenetics and developmental regulation.
- Molecular basis of disease. Many research programs in our department involve human disorders, diseases, and syndromes. This includes inflammation, infections and antibiotic resistance, organophosphate detoxification, obesity and diabetes, cancer, and lysosomal storage diseases. Many of these disorders are investigated at the molecular level.
A variety of methodologies are being utilized, with an emphasis on biochemistry, biophysics, molecular genetics, advanced light microscopy, computation methods, and structural tools (such as crystallography, atomic force microscope, mass spectrometry). Additional information can be obtained in the department's Home Page.