Life is the most exciting phenomenon we have ever new! It continues for more than 3.5 billion years on our planet. It is as long as 1/4 of the age of the universe! We want to unlock the secret of life and understand how living organisms work. Therefore we are studying one of the most beautiful creations of the evolution – molecular machines. Molecular machines are proteins or complexes of proteins that extract energy from chemical bonds or ion gradients within the cell and perform work in a way resembling human-made machines. They produce energy for us, they let us move contracting our muscles, they transmit signals between cells empowering our brains. How are the molecular machines made? How do they function? How has nature created them? These are the question we will find answer to. Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery tour.
Structures of membrane protein complexes
We study structures and functions of large membrane embedded molecular machines. We purify proteins using variety of biochemical methods, characterize their function and use single particle cryo-EM to determine their structure see the movies of molecular machines at work.
Engineering tools for cryo EM
Sample preparation is one of the most significant steps limiting current potential applications of single particle cryo-EM. To go beyond the current limits we are engineering and building our own devices exploring novel approaches to sample preparation. They allow incredible manipulations with liquids at the nanoscale.
3D structures of the molecular machines are reconstituted from thousands of noisy 2D projections of cryo-EM images of individual protein particles. Current challenges in cryo-EM data processing are in obtaining 3D reconstructions of structurally heterogeneous ensembles of single particles. In this project we are exploring possibilities of using novel mathematical approaches to obtaining reconstructions from flexible or partially disordered proteins.