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Cellular & Molecular Structure Analysis

This group includes scientists who apply cutting-edge structural and cell biology techniques to study fundamental cellular processes in normal and diseased conditions, and in microbial pathogens. These studies provide molecular detail of interactions between cellular components involved in cell division, locomotion, muscle contraction, gene expression, host-pathogen interaction, and cancer. The goals are to not only understand how disease develops, but also to identify novel drug targets and mechanisms of drug resistance. Techniques include, x-ray crystallography, NMR, high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy, laser-based cellular dissection combined with light-microscopy, and computational biology, in addition to common biochemistry and molecular biology approaches.

Associated Researchers

  • Rajendra K. Agrawal

    Rajendra K. Agrawal, Ph.D.

    • Director, Division of Translational Medicine, Wadsworth Center

    We study mechanisms of protein biosynthesis in bacterial and eukaryotic cells, with a goal to understand bacterial drug resistance and identify new drug targets, using biochemical and high-resolution 3D cryo-EM techniques.

  • Nilesh Banavali

    Nilesh Banavali, Ph.D.

    • Computational Biophysics

    We use NextGen sequencing to determine frequencies and sequence dependence of polymerase errors, and computational methods for drug design, structure prediction, and elucidating chemical and conformational mechanisms.
  • Ye Ding, Ph.D.

    Ye Ding, Ph.D.

    • RNA Bioinformatics

    We are engaged in algorithms and software tool development for the prediction of RNA secondary structure and their applications to understand mechanisms of regulatory non-coding RNAs, with a recent focus on microRNAs and small bacterial RNAs.

  • Griselda Hernández

    Griselda Hernández, Ph.D.

    • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Structural Biology

    We use NMR spectroscopy and molecular design to characterize the coupled transitions of FK506-binding domain proteins so as to understand their roles in regulatory signaling and facilitate structure-based therapeutic drug design.

  • Alexey Khodjakov

    Alexey Khodjakov, Ph.D.

    • Cellular and Molecular Basis of Diseases - Mitosis

    We seek to reveal the molecular mechanisms that enact error-free segregation of chromosomes during cell division. Advanced microscopy and laser ablations allow us to probe the behavior of individual chromosomes and spindle poles.

  • David LeMaster

    David LeMaster, Ph.D.

    • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Structural Biology

    We apply joint NMR-molecular simulation analysis to more accurately model the dynamics and conformational distribution of the protein native state to gain further insight into the role of protein motion in biological function.

  • Janice D. Pata

    Janice D. Pata, Ph.D.

    • Polymerases, Mutations, and the Evolution of Antimicrobial Drug Resistance

    We study the molecular mechanisms by which multiple DNA polymerases replicate bacterial genomes completely, with high accuracy and tolerance for DNA damage, yet also create mutations that give rise to antibiotic resistance.

  • Haixin Sui

    Haixin Sui, Ph.D.

    • Cellular and Molecular Basis of Diseases - Structural Cell Biology

    We study the structural basis of macromolecular assemblies and organelles in epithelial cells for sensing or responding to extracellular environmental changes. Our approach involves a variety of customized methods in advanced electron microscopy.