Our lab is particularly interested in understanding how the three-dimensional structures of proteins have evolved to act as highly specific and efficient chemical catalysts (enzymes) or binding proteins.
The main techniques that we use for our studies are molecular biology, protein expression and purification, and X-ray crystallography. We also use other biochemical, biophysical and computational techniques to explore how enzymes and binding proteins function.
Our lab focuses on a few different systems:
RNA-dependent RNA polymerases are the central enzymes responsible for replicating the genomes of positive-strand RNA viruses. Positive-strand RNA viruses are the cause of many human diseases -- such as polio, the common cold, hepatitis A, hepatitis C, dengue fever, viral encephalitis (West Nile virus), viral gastroenteritis (noroviruses) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Positive-strand RNA viruses also cause many serious diseases in other animals (for example, foot-and-mouth disease, rabbit hemorrhagic disease, feline calicivirus disease, porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome, and equine viral arteritis) and plants (for example, plum pox and barley yellow disease).
Here are some of the main systems that we are currently studying: