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The Department of Biological Chemistry is home to more than 24 research groups, whose scientific activities span several areas in the Life Sciences. The common thread of research in our department is the biochemistry of life. Emphasis is on the investigation of proteins, whether soluble or membrane-bound, and their key biological functions alone or as parts of extended networks. A variety of biochemical, biophysical, structural, computational, molecular biological and imaging methods are being employed.

Current research activities evolve around the following foci of interest:

Protein science and macromolecular machines

Several groups investigate the basic principles governing protein-protein interactions; composition, assembly, and architecture of multi-enzyme and other large complexes; catalytic mechanisms and the evolution of proteins and enzymes. A major aim is to understand how the findings relate to intricate biological processes.

DNA and regulation of gene expression

Various aspects of nucleic acids research are addressed in our department including: DNA repair and mutagenesis in mammals; basal and activated transcription; specific gene expression in the pancreas; phylogenetic analysis of accumulated somatic mutations.

Structure, function, and biogenesis of membrane proteins

We investigate important integral membrane proteins on the biochemical, biophysical, structural, and physiological levels. This includes Na+ and K+ channels, Na+/K+ ATPase and its FXYD protein regulators, multidrug transporters, intra-membrane proteases, and peptides that integrate into membranes in various systems.

Membranes, lipids, and organelle structure, function, and biogenesis

Studies in our department include the biosynthetic pathway of membrane proteins; intracellular protein traffic, especially during the process of autophagy; lysosome biogenesis, exososome biogenesis and lipid homeostasis; Calcium homeostasis; and, assembly and function of membrane proteins involved in the immune response, infectious diseases, and viral envelopes.

Signaling within and between cells

Several researchers in the department are interested in problems related to signal transduction and cell-to-cell communication. Cell guidance and navigation; axon guidance; cell death and tissue damage; long distance intracellular signaling; regulation of expression of virulence factors; regulation of the circadian rhythm; epigenetic gene silencing; epigenetics and developmental regulation

Molecular basis of disease

Many research programs in our department involve human disorders, diseases, and syndromes. This includes inflammation, infections and antibiotic resistance, organophosphate detoxification, obesity and diabetes, malaria, cancer, and lysosomal storage diseases. Many of these disorders are investigated at the molecular level.