Signal Transduction; Membrane Protein Structure, Yeast Molecular Biology
Transmembrane proteins carry out critical functions in transporting ions and metabolites in an out of cells and organelles, in transducing extracellular signals into intracellular responses, in cell-cell recognition, and in catalyzing a variety of enzymatic reactions. They also constitute 20-30% of the protein coding potential of most genomes. However, the structures and molecular mechanisms of the function of membrane proteins remain much more poorly characterized than is the case for most soluble proteins. The Dumont laboratory focuses on understanding mechanisms of membrane protein function at the molecular level, often using yeast as a model system. We have developed procedures for expressing diverse membrane proteins in yeast and purifying them for structure determination by x-ray crystallography.
Members of the laboratory are also using genetic and biophysical approaches to understand mechanisms of signaling by the important class of G protein coupled receptors that are responsible for a wide variety of responses to hormones, neurotransmitters, and sensory stimuli. An additional project in the laboratory is the expression of the envelope glycoprotein from the HIV virus at the surface of yeast cells so that genetic approaches can be used to identify variant forms of the protein that will be useful for vaccine development.