General Overview: Molecular Machines

At around the resolution of a billionth of a metre, the proteins within living systems are observable as an aggregation of molecular machines, each with unique architecture, chemistry and cellular function. The lab mainly uses a fusion of biochemistry, X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy to understand how such molecular machines work at atomic and near atomic resolution. At this scale, the mechanics of basic cellular processes and the aetiology of disease may be dissected in detail, thereby providing a potent platform for technological and medical advance.

Specifically, current research is focused upon proteins and protein complexes operating at the membrane interface. For example, we are particularly interested in how members of the Dynamin family remodel membrane in both eukaryotic and bacterial systems. In humans, such work has diverse implication, from cell migration and cancer metastasis, to cell trafficking and viral invasion. Dynamin function in bacteria is still poorly understood- something we are working to resolve.

Protein secretion in bacteria is also of key interest, with a focus on outer membrane vesicle biogenesis and the release of cholera-like toxin in enterotoxigenic E.coli. Prior research characterised the bacterial Type IV secretion system, which translocates virulence factors into eukaryotic cells and distributes genetic material between bacteria.