Fanucci Group

2006 SEMRC



















We are proad to host this year's South East Magnetic Resonance Conference.

To learn more about the 2006 SEMRC, please check out the website.


Our group utilizes biophysical magnetic resonance techniques including site-directed spin labeling EPR(electron paramagnetic resonance) spectroscopy and some solid-state NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance)spectroscopy. These techniques are used to answer questions about protein structure, dynamics and conformational changes as they apply to various functions relevant in cell biology.

Overview of Research Program: EPR Investigations of Structure, Dynamics and Conformational Changes in Complex Biological Systems.

In the growing field of structural genomics, new insights into biological processes often result from combined structural, biophysical and biochemical approaches. Membrane protein structure and function is an exquisite example of this tenet. Structure determination of integral membrane/membrane associated proteins represents a frontier in structural biology. Nevertheless, the last decade has witnessed significant progress in X-ray crystallography of membrane proteins, and structures are now reported for a number of membrane protein classes, including receptors, ion channels, pores and transporters. NMR spectroscopy and lower resolution spectroscopic techniques (such as IR, EPR, FRET and EM) have also generated useful structural information of membrane proteins. In addition to “structure”, these methods provide insight about dynamics and conformational heterogeneity. Often, these lower resolution biophysical techniques offer the only means to study complex systems of biological macromolecular assemblies that pose great difficulty to NMR or X-ray techniques.

In addition to membrane proteins, the broadly defined class of natively unstructured proteins and protein translocation across membrane barriers are examples of two other fields that benefit immensely from study by a variety of biophysical approaches. With the recent discovery that small RNA molecules can regulate a variety of cellular functions, studies of structure and conformational changes in RNA have also emerged at the forefront of structural biology efforts.

This research program is focused on the above highlighted areas of protein science and structural biology. Our research utilizes site-directed spin labeling (SDSL) and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, along with other physical characterization techniques such as circular dichroism, NMR and fluorescence spectroscopy. Questions concerning conformational changes in mRNA, membrane translocation phenomenon, membrane protein structure and conformational changes, and the interaction of natively unstructured proteins with other proteins are addressed.