Proteins are essential to life. They play a role in all types of biological processes in all species of plants, animals, and bacteria. Our research determines how proteins function by analyzing their three-dimensional structure.
Specifically, we study proteins on the surface of bacteria that help them move, release substances, and stick together. These proteins either help bacteria survive or cause diseases. Because these proteins are found on the surface of bacteria, vaccines and drugs can get to them. Knowing the structure of these particular proteins may help researchers develop therapies that fight infectious bacteria cells without hurting a patient’s own cells.
My lab studies several distinct proteins. Some are common to many different kinds of bacteria and are required for their survival. Others are uniquely involved in the development of specific infections, including the bacteria that causes plague. Recently, we have also started to study proteins that may play a role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.