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

Lifetime Achievement Award

Kenan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Gary Pielak, has been...

Light-Controlled Drugs

Red blood cells, the most numerous type of cell in the body, can act as light-activated drug delivery...

Orthogonal Expression

Researchers in the Brustad Group, published in ChemBioChem, report the engineering...

Representative Publications

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

Identification of the Biosynthetic Pathway for the Antibiotic Bicyclomycin.
Jon B. Patteson, Wenlong Cai, Rachel A. Johnson, Kevin C. Santa Maria, and Bo Li.
Biochemistry, 2018, 57 (1), pp 61–65

Electrostatic Contributions to Protein Quinary Structure.
Rachel D. Cohen and Gary J. Pielak.
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138 (40), pp 13139–13142

SHAPE Reveals Transcript-Wide Interactions, Complex Structural Domains, and Protein Interactions across the Xist lncRNA in Living Cells.
Matthew J. Smola, Thomas W. Christy, Kaoru Inoue, Cindo O. Nicholson, Matthew Friedersdorf, Jack D. Keene, David M. Lee, J. Mauro Calabrese, and Kevin M. Weeks.
PNAS September 13, 2016. 113 (37) 10322-10327; published ahead of print August 30, 2016.

Phototriggered Secretion of Membrane Compartmentalized Bioactive Agents.
Prof. Robert M. Hughes, Christina M. Marvin, Dr. Zachary L. Rodgers, Dr. Song Ding, Dr. Nathan P. Oien, Dr. Weston J. Smith, and Prof. David S. Lawrence.
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 16080.

Cosolute and Crowding Effects on a Side-By-Side Protein Dimer.
Alex J. Guseman and Gary J. Pielak.
Biochemistry, 2017, 56 (7), pp 971–976

Bringing RNA Into the Fold: Small Molecules Find New Targets in RNA to Combat Disease.
Shraddha Chakradhar.
Nature Medicine volume 23, pages 532–534 (2017)

Role for Dithiolopyrrolones in Disrupting Bacterial Metal Homeostasis.
Andrew N. Chan, Anthony L. Shiver, Walter J. Wever, Sayyeda Zeenat A. Razvi, Matthew F. Traxler, and Bo Li.
PNAS March 7, 2017. 114 (10) 2717-2722; published ahead of print February 16, 2017.

Investigation of Trimethyllysine Binding by the HP1 Chromodomain via Unnatural Amino Acid Mutagenesis.
Stefanie A. Baril, Amber L. Koenig, Mackenzie W. Krone, Katherine I. Albanese, Cyndi Qixin He, Ga Young Lee, Kendall N. Houk , Marcey L. Waters, and Eric M. Brustad.
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139 (48), pp 17253–17256

Orthogonal Expression of an Artificial Metalloenzyme for Abiotic Catalysis.
Evan W. Reynolds, Timothy D. Schwochert, Matthew W. McHenry, John W. Watters, Eric M. Brustad.
ChemBioChem, Volume 18, Issue 24, December 14, 2017, 2380–2384

Structural Basis for the Regulation of β–Glucuronidase Expression by Human Gut Enterobacteriaceae.
Michael S. Little, Samuel J. Pellock, William G. Walton, Ashutosh Tripathy, and Matthew R. Redinbo.
PNAS 2017; published ahead of print December 21, 2017,