All organisms produce a large repertoire of gene-encoded cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which serve to protect the host from microbial invasion. Most of these molecules directly kill bacteria by targeting and perforating the negatively charged membrane of the pathogen. In light of a worldwide emergence of drug-resistance bacterial pathogens, AMPs are promising therapeutic candidates.
HIV enters the host cell by membrane fusion. To this extent it uses its gp41 envelope protein, comprised of several distinct regions. Our lab has extensively studied the contribution of gp41’s fusion peptide, heptad repeats and transmembrane domain to membrane fusion as well as the effects of lipids on this process.
TLRs are a family of type I membrane proteins that play a fundamental role in sensing invasions and initiating immune response. When activated, TLRs form homo- or hetero-dimers that result in secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators. Uncontrolled activation of TLRs might lead to a number of pathologies ranging from cystic fibrosis, sepsis, Crohn’s disease and cancer.