Biophysics of Proteins and Biomimetic Membranes
Core research focus of the group led by Brigita Urbanc is folding mechanisms and pathways of assembly of proteins such as amyloid beta-protein and tau-protein associated with Alzheimer's disease, alpha-synuclein implicated in Parkinson's disease, sickle hemoglobin causing sickle-cell dementia, and human spastin involved in hereditary spastic paraplegia. Further research topics include but are not limited to interactions of amyloid-forming proteins with biomimetic membranes, membrane receptors, and membrane proteins. Multiscale computational approaches include fast and efficient discrete molecular dynamics (DMD) combined with coarse-grained protein models in implicit solvent as well as all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) in explicit solvent. Experimental techniques that will be applied are photo-induced cross-linking of unmodified proteins (PICUP) combined with gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) for studying size distribution of small assemblies at the early stages of protein aggregation and surface plasmon field-enhanced fluorescence spectroscopy (SPFS) to study interactions between proteins and biomimetic membranes.