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INTRODUCTION

"How things work?" - This is the question most, if not all, scientists are eager to answer. Our passion is to unravel the mechanism of function of proteins in a living organism where they work as small "molecular machines" with a remarkable precision. This lab can be described as a "structural biology lab", but our goal is not the determination of three-dimensional structure of proteins. Rather, we FIRST solve the structure, THEN perform biochemical, biophysical, and cell biological experiments to draw novel pictures about molecular mechanism of proteins, taking advantage of the structural information that is not available to anybody else. We are mostly focused on the molecular interactions between cell surface receptors and their extracellular ligands implicated in the signal transduction in a wide variety of biological contexts, ranging from development, neurobiology, and immunity.

Our approach is multi-faceted. As the methodology for structural analysis, we utilize X-ray crystallography, which determines 3D structure of proteins at atomic resolution, and electron microscopy, which can derive structure of protein complexes too large for XRD or visualize the shape of proteins in their true biological environment (e.g., within cells). The latter expertise includes cutting-edge technologies such as cryoelectron microscopy and electron tomography. In order to back these structural efforts, we also develop an array of in-house technologies critical for the production of high-quality recombinant proteins using mammalian cell expression system.