Research Biological

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

Photoactivatable Reporter to Perform Multiplexed and Temporally Controlled Measurements of Kinase and Protease Activity in Single Cells

Peptide bioreporters were developed to perform multiplexed measurements of the activation of epidermal growth factor receptor kinase (EGFR), Akt kinase (Akt/protein kinase B), and proteases/peptidases in single cells.

Enzymatic Synthesis of Diverse Heterocycles by a Noncanonical Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetase

Here, we characterize a monomodular NRPS, PvfC, encoded by the Pseudomonas virulence factor (pvf) gene cluster that is essential for virulence and signaling in different bacterial species.

Subsite Ligand Recognition and Cooperativity in the TPP Riboswitch: Implications for Fragment-Linking in RNA Ligand Discovery

Here, we investigated the binding of thiamine and methylene diphosphonic acid (MDP, a soluble structural analogue of pyrophosphate) to the thiamine pyrophosphate riboswitch.

Representative Publications

Accounts of Chemical Research.
SHAPE Directed Discovery of New Functions in Large RNAs Kevin M. Weeks Accounts of Chemical Research 2021 54 (10), 2502-2517 DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.1c00118

Toxicology in Vitro.
Physiologically relevant oxygen tensions differentially regulate hepatotoxic responses in HepG2 cells Thomas J. DiProspero, Erin Dalrymple, Matthew R. Lockett, Toxicology in Vitro 2021 74, 0887-2333 DOI: 10.1016/j.tiv.2021.105156

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