Research in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology falls into three general areas: Gene Expression, Cellular Biochemistry and Structural Biology. The three groups are highly interactive and collaborative, both within and between the focus areas.


Six research groups in the department are working to unravel the biophysical basis of complex biological events spanning from the cell surface to the nucleus. The research includes detailed structural studies on chromatin and transcription complexes and the protein-protein interactions involved in the cell cycle. Other research projects delve into the biophysical mechanism of protein folding, stability and design, and the basic methodologies that are used in the determination of biomolecular structure and dynamics. X-ray diffraction, analytical ultracentrifugation, and optical spectroscopic methods are being used to evaluate the structure and dynamics of the multi-component molecular machines that are central to the processes of gene-regulation, energy interconversion and signalling, and cell-cycle regulation.


Analysis of Macromolecular Assemblies:  Dr. HansenDr. LugerDr.Peersen
Amyloid Fibril Formation:  Dr. Ross
Protein Folding:  Dr. Woody
Analysis of Macromolecular Assemblies: Dr. Cohen


X-Ray Crystallography:  Dr. Luger & Dr. Peersen
Optical Spectroscopy:  Dr. Woody
Analytical Ultracentrifugation:  Dr. Hansen




Effect of Acidosis on Renal Gene Expression:  Dr. Curthoys
Reconstitution of Yeast Chromatin; Chromatin Structure and the Regulation of Gene Expression:  Dr. Laybourn
Transcriptional Activation by the Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Tax Protein; Involvement of Coactivators and Tumor Suppressors:  Dr. Nyborg
Fundamental Transcription and Regulation Mechanisms of RNA Polymerases I and III in Eukaryotic Cells: Dr. Paule
Mechanisms of Transcriptional Initiation by RNA Polymerase II:  Dr. Stargell
Regulation of chromatin structure and dynamics by histone ubiquitination: Dr. Tingting Yao

Departmental Collaborations

Structural Analysis of RNA Polymerase II General Transcription Factors:  Dr. Stargell
TBP Mutants that Specifically Affect Rribosomal RNA Transcription:  Dr. Paule & Dr. Stargell
Viral Transactivation in a Chromatin Context:  Dr. Laybourn & Dr. Nyborg
Structure Function of Transcription Factors:  Dr. Laybourn
High Resolution Structural Studies on Viral Activator Complexes:  Dr. Luger & Dr. Nyborg
Mechanism of RNA Polymerase I Nucleosome Stripping from Transcribed Ribosomal RNA Genes:  Dr. PauleDr. Luger & Dr. Laybourn



Cellular biochemistry focuses on the signaling processes that permit the elaborate cell-cell communication required in a multicellular organism.  Five research groups are currently studying cellular biochemistry, focusing their research on the rapid changes in cytoskeletal proteins, protein kinases, membrane lipids, and small ions that accompany extracellular signals.  These groups utilize a broad array of biochemical techniques including fluorescence and electron microscopy, gene expression, and electrophysiology to characterize these fundamental biological processes.


The Role of ADF in Neural Degeneration:  Dr. Bamburg
The HTLV-1 Tax Protein and T-Cell Immortalization:  Dr. Nyborg


Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation  Dr. DeLuca


Regulation of Muscle Excitability:  Dr. Tamkun


Dynamics of the Neuronal Cytoskeleton:  Dr. Bamburg
Cofilin and Actin in Neuronal Function: Dr. Barbara Bernstein

Retrovirus Assembly and Budding

Cellular Factors That Regulate the Gag-Actin Interactions for Gag Polyprotein Trafficking:  Dr. Chen
Viral Determinants for the Actin Cytoskeleton Association:   Dr. Chen

Signal Transduction

Regulation of ADF/Cofilin Proteins:  Dr. Bamburg

Ubiquitin metabolism and ubiquitin-mediated signaling

Regulation of deubiquitination enzymes: Dr. Cohen & Dr. Tingting Yao
Polyubiquitin recognition in signaling pathways: Dr. Cohen & Dr. Tingting Yao

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