More than 50% of current drugs affect membrane proteins and membrane protein systems. It is thus clear that membranes and the proteins embedded in/associated with them are key both biologically and medicinally. The proteins and protein complexes in the membrane create electrochemical gradients, mediate self:non-self interactions, and control the passage of molecules and responses to extracellular signals. Despite this, such systems have been less thoroughly studied than soluble proteins (Engelman, 2005, Nature, 438, 578-80). Steady advances in techniques have made it possible to study them in lower amounts and with more spatial and temporal precision than before.
Our work, which aims at spatial cellular/structural biology, thus focuses on proteins and protein complexes that are at and close to the cell surface, looking at at neuronal protein interactions (e.g. GDNF-GFRα-RET, MANF, and neuronal LRR-proteins) and at host-pathogen interactions, such as those involving trimeric autotransporters, factor H and complement.