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My research interests are in protein structure & function, biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology. My lab is particularly focused on understanding the relationship of protein structure to protein function, and the implications of this relationship in both biomedical and evolutionary contexts. My teaching contributions are into the BSc (biochemistry and genetics) and BVSc programs. Before taking a faculty position at Massey University I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge UK.
Our lab is focused on understanding the relationship of protein structure with protein function, and the implications of this relationship in both biomedical and evolutionary contexts.
Defining the protein structure-function relationship is very informative in understanding molecular mechanisms of inherited genetic diseases where often only a single amino acid change in a protein, caused by just a single nucleotide change in gene sequence, results in altered cellular events leading to human diseases. We apply a structural biology/biochemical approach to understanding the effects of missense mutation on proteins associated with muscle, skeletal and neurological diseases. Specifically we are interested in the structure and function of the filamin family of proteins, associated with neurological, skeletal and muscle disorders, and of dystrophin the protein mutated in Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophies. Furthermore we are interested in functionally comparing dystrophin to its homologous protein, utrophin, which has been proposed as a therapeutic replacement protein for defective dystrophin function. The study of inherited human disorders provides crucial insights into normal cellular events as well as illuminating disease mechanisms. We also are very interested in understanding functional mechanisms of key glucokinase enzymes and muscle signaling proteins.
Sequence comparison has been the traditional methods of establishing genetic evolutionary relationship between proteins. Evolutionary structural comparisons are more difficult to perform but are potentially far more information rich as it is protein structure that is the functional selectable evolutionary unit rather than the gene or protein sequence. We have taken a structural-bioinformatic approach to examining the evolutionary distribution of the Major Vault Protein and its phylogenetic relationship to the last eukaryotic common ancestor, and are now looking at other gene families. Our research group also has interests in understanding the functional and evolutionary relationships between bacterial and archaeal cell wall synthetic enzymes using experimental structure and function approaches.
Our lab uses structural biology, in vitro biochemistry, cell biology and bioinformatics methods to investigate these research areas.
Health and Well-being
Field of research codes
Biochemistry and Cell Biology (060100): Bioinformatics (060102): Biological Sciences (060000): Cellular Interactions (incl. Adhesion, Matrix, Cell Wall) (060106): Enzymes (060107): Evolutionary Biology (060300): Genetics (060400): Molecular Evolution (060409): Structural Biology (incl. Macromolecular Modelling) (060112)
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Structural Biology, Protein Structure and Function, Enzymes, Biomedical Research, X-ray crystallography, Protein Assays, Protein Purification, Cytoskeleton, Actin, Filamin, Dystrophin, Utrophin,
Project Title: Stretching Protein Springs: How do cells respond to force
Date Range: 2011 - 2014
Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full
Protein Structure and Function
Biochemistry for Technology
Molecular Cell Biology
Biochemistry for Veterinary Science
Advanced Topics in Molecular Biology
Advanced Topics in Biochemistry
Genes and Gene Expression