Membrane Structure and Function
Biological membranes are the site of many molecular systems that give rise to a variety of physiologically important functions. Among these functions are nutrient and ion transport, oxidative and photosynthetic phosphorylation, signal transduction, and electrical excitability. A detailed understanding of membrane functions requires examination of components at the molecular level and an understanding of the organization of these components to form the complete system within the overall geometry of the membrane. To this end, considerable research at the University of Virginia is directed toward the isolation and characterization examination of functional protein components, the generation and study of lipid bilayer systems, and the reconstitution of functional membrane systems from these components.
This work spans the spectrum of biological membranes from highly specialized structures such as those found in nerve axons and synapses and in the rod outer segments of the visual system, to more generalized membranes exhibiting a diversity of functions, such as those of microorganisms, erythrocytes, and somatic cells in culture. The questions addressed and the types of techniques used range from the analysis of the dynamics of lipid acyl chains by NMR spectrometry and fluorescence depolarization, to site-directed mutagenesis of transport proteins, to determination of membrane protein structure by electron diffraction.
Faculty in this area:
Role of Arf family GTPases in vesicular transport and cytoskeleton assembly.
Cell Biology of bacterial pathogenesis.
The innate immune response to bacterial infection.
Biophysical Chemistry: Membrane protein structure, function, and dynamics
Ion channels and Ca2+-signaling in inflammation, immunity and tissue homeostasis
The Role of Mitochondrial Fusion and Fission in Tumorigenesis.
Human Herpes virus associated with malignancy, including Kaposi's Sarcoma
Architecture and function of biological membranes
Biomembrane Structure and Function; Cell Entry of Enveloped Viruses; Neurosecretion by Exocytosis; Structure of Bacterial Pathogen Membrane Proteins; Lipid-Protein Interactions
Cardiac Gap Junction Membrane Channels / IntegrinsWater Channels / Rotavirus / Reovirus / Retrovirus
Transport of biopolymers across biological membranes with a particular interest in polysaccharide and protein translocation.