The research profile of the
scientific research group
Molecular biophysics of biomembrane-associated live processes with relevance to human health and quality of life
Our main research directions are:
- Molecular biophysics of the structure-function relationship, dynamics and working mechanism of selected proton- and electron-transport membrane proteins (rotary ATPases and cytochromes, respectively) in their lipid environment.
- Folding, insertion and assembly of proteins in the membrane and at the membrane-water interface, in relation to their biological function.
- Prediction of functionally relevant structure and conformations of membrane proteins.
- Protein-lipid interactions and membrane reorganisations in photosynthetic and lipid-based drug delivery processes.
Common in these studies is the role of the physical and chemical state of protein-lipid interface in regulating membrane proteins or proteins functionally associated with biomembranes. The above topics are of strong bio-medical relevance. We also participate in numerous collaborative projects related to photosynthesis, agriculture and environment protection, such as the study free radicals, biomembranes, lipid-based drug-delivery formulas, soluble and membrane proteins, food products and waste-water cleaning filters. Due our unique research infrastructure and extensive collaborations, we are among the top as concern scientific impact per unit funding.
Our unique spectroscopy-based molecular biophysics suite of methods yields functionally relevant data on structure and dynamics of biomolecules. We use localised and transient spectroscopy to tune into the spatial location and time window of native molecular events in biomembranes and membrane-associate proteins. Therefore, our data are functionally relevant. The combination of experimental molecular data with bioinformatics, artificial intelligence (AI) and molecular mechanics/dynamics is very powerful, and allows us to build atomistic and physical models of the native biomolecules and understand their mechanism of action. Our main technique is (site-directed) spin-labelling and spin-trapping electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy (we have the best X-band continuous wave and pulsed EPR spectrometer in Central- and East Europe). We also have a very well equipped modular spectrofluorimeter and Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer to study native or attached fluorescent groups and molecular vibrations, respectively, in biomolecules. These techniques are combined with reaction-triggering techniques for studying kinetics. Phase transitions are studied with our differential scanning calorimeter. We also have a computer cluster for the theoretical work including bioinformatics, machine learning (neuronal network) and molecular modelling. Essentially, our approach is functional structure biology.