Biological Research

Graduate students in the Division meld molecular and structural biology with physical, organic and analytical chemistry to understand the molecular basis of biological processes and human disease. Research in the Biological Division focuses on the structure, stability and function of proteins, membranes, DNA, RNA, macromolecular complexes and viruses, natural product biogenesis, synthetic biology, and genomics.

Students are a constant source of new hypotheses for mechanisms underlying cellular machines like the ribosome, spliceosome, and as well as protein and RNA folding. Students tackle these problems using biochemical methods, chemical biosensor technologies, protein and nucleic acid crystallography, in vitro and in vivo evolution, multi-dimensional NMR spectroscopy, surface chemistry, atomic-force microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Doctoral students in our Divsion leave the Department broadly trained for leadership roles in academia and industry.

Recent Research Results

Genome Mining

Bacteria communicate with one another using small organic molecules as chemical messages. These molecules regulate...

Translational Research

Translational research made possible by technology developed in our department, has been...

Enzymatic Cyclopropanation

In recent years, cytochrome P450s, P450s, and other heme proteins have attracted intense interest...

Representative Publications

Active Site Flexibility Revealed in Crystal Structures of Parabacteroides merdae β‐Glucuronidase from the Human Gut Microbiome.
Michael S. Little, Samantha M. Ervin, William G. Walton, Ashutosh Tripathy, Yongmei Xu, Jian Liu, Matthew R. Redinbo.
Protein Science, Volume27, Issue12, December 2018, Pages 2010-2022

Pervasive Tertiary Structure in the Dengue Virus RNA Genome.
Elizabeth A. Dethoff, Mark A. Boerneke, Nandan S. Gokhale, Brejnev M. Muhire, Darren P. Martin, Matthew T. Sacco, Michael J. McFadden, Jules B. Weinstein, William B. Messer, Stacy M. Horner, and Kevin M. Weeks.
PNAS November 6, 2018 115 (45) 11513-11518; published ahead of print October 19, 2018

Phevamine A, a Small Molecule that Suppresses Plant Immune Responses.
Erinn M. O’Neill, Tatiana S. Mucyn, Jon B. Patteson, Omri M. Finkel, Eui-Hwan Chung, Joshua A. Baccile, Elisabetta Massolo, Frank C. Schroeder, Jeffery L. Dangl, and Bo Li.
PNAS published ahead of print September 20, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1803779115

Discovery of (Dihydro)pyrazine N-Oxides via Genome Mining in Pseudomonas.
Org. Lett., 2018, 20 (16), pp 4791–4795.
Ashley M. Kretsch, Gina L. Morgan, Jillian Tyrrell, Emily Mevers, Isabelle Vallet-Gély, and Bo Li

Protein Shape Modulates Crowding Effects.
Alex J. Guseman, Gerardo M. Perez Goncalves, Shannon L. Speer, Gregory B. Young, and Gary J. Pielak.

Osmolytes and Protein–Protein Interactions.
Amy E. Rydeen, Eric M. Brustad, and Gary J. Pielak.
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2018, 140 (24), pp 7441–7444

ITLE Exploring Bioactive Peptides from Bacterial Secretomes Using PepSAVI‐MS: Identification and Characterization of Bac‐21 from Enterococcus faecalis pPD1.
Christine L. Kirkpatrick, Nicole C. Parsley, Tessa E. Bartges, Casey E. Wing, Sushma Kommineni, Christopher J. Kristich, Nita H. Salzman, Steven M. Patrie, Leslie M. Hicks.
Microbial Biotechnology, Volume 11, Issue 5, September 2018, Pages 943-951

In Vitro Biosynthesis of the Nonproteinogenic Amino Acid Methoxyvinylglycine.
Jon B. Patteson, Zachary D. Dunn, Bo Li.
Angew. Chemie, Volume57, Issue 23, June 4, 2018, Pages 6780-6785

Design and Profiling of a Subcellular Targeted Optogenetic cAMP-Dependent Protein Kinase.
O'Banion, Colin P.; Priestman, Melanie A.; Hughes, Robert M.; Herring, Laura E.; Capuzzi, Stephen J.; Lawrence, David S..
CELL CHEMICAL BIOLOGY, 25 (1), Pages 100-109, 18 JAN 2018

Enhancing Cytochrome P450‐Mediated Non‐Natural Cyclopropanation by Mutation of a Conserved Second‐Shell Residue.
Joshua G. Gober Amy E. Rydeen Timothy D. Schwochert Evan J. Gibson‐O'Grady Eric M. Brustad.
Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Volume115, Issue 6, June 2018, Pages 1416-1426