The Students

The Big Picture

Understanding the molecular forces that govern membrane protein folding pathways

Membrane proteins are the cell's gateway to its environment. Using a variety of membrane proteins, a cell transmits information, receives nutrients, and responds to outside signals. Membrane proteins constitute more 30% of the entire proteome, and over 50% of the drugs in the current market are targeted towards membrane proteins. Despite their importance, there's been relatively little progress in our fundamental understanding of biophysical and biochemical properties of membrane proteins. So, while the field of soluble protein folding has advanced tremendously in the past few decades, the field of membrane protein folding is still in its infancy. Understanding protein folding mechanism holds the key for predicting protein structures from the primary amino acid sequence and studying the function of proteins. Currently, I am interested in using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and various spectroscopic methodologies to determine the molecular interactions that are responsible for folding an oligomeric α-helical membrane protein Kv1.3, a voltage-gated potassium channel.