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Structural Biophysics Laboratory

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In addition to the information presented below, the SBL has an alternative website that can provide you with more detail about their work.


The Structural Biophysics Laboratory (SBL) focuses on solution structural biology and biophysics aimed at understanding and regulating the mechanism of action of proteins and nucleic acids. Our studies are targeted at important molecular pathways in cancer, particularly relating to invasiveness and metastasis. The major structural tool for the SBL is nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and the Laboratory has a very strong interdisciplinary effort in biophysics that includes Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) conducted through a Partnership User Program with the Advanced Photon Source at the Argonne National Laboratory. The SBL will be expanding with the addition of new PIs in 2013, which will broaden the scope of structural studies and their relationship to cancer.

Byrd Lab: This laboratory uses NMR, biophysics and molecular biology to investigate the mechanisms of ubiquitination, specifically the interactions and regulations of ubiquitin conjugating enzymes (E2s) with ubiquitin ligases (E3s) involved in endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation (ERAD). Another significant project involves intracellular signaling via ADP-ribosylation factor (Arf) family GTP-binding proteins and their activators, the Arf GTPase-activating proteins (Arf GAPs). These projects are collaborative, involving CCR PIs, and focus on protein:protein interactions and the molecular mechanisms of action. Deciphering these mechanistic aspects provides opportunities for intervention.

Wang Lab: This laboratory explores structure-function relationships of RNA, RNA-protein and RNA:RNA complexes using NMR, SAXS, other biophysics, biochemical and biological tools and methods. The laboratory is currently focusing on the mechanism of how the HIV-1 virus recognizes its own mRNA and exports it out of nucleus for viral translation or packaging. This project is a collaboration with several CCR PIs. The laboratory also studies the mechanism of how 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of mRNAs in human and in a model system involve in regulation of gene expression. Examples of such systems are 3' UTRs of the human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA and the turnip crinkle virus (TCV) mRNA. Detailed structural information may lead to understanding of human diseases at the atomic level, thus potentially resulting in new revenues of therapeutic treatment.

Walters Lab: Projects in the Walters lab focus on how proteins are removed from cells. We are interested in how misfolded protein substrates are recognized and ubiquitinated by cellular surveillance systems and how ubiquitinated substrates are identified and processed by proteasome. We use a variety of biophysical techniques, our most powerful of which is NMR spectroscopy, to help develop a mechanistic understanding of how proteasome recognizes and processes its substrates. Our long-term goal is the manipulation of this process for proteins of interest, including oncoproteins and tumor suppressors.

This page was last updated on 5/5/2014.