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Revealing the atomic-level mechanism of membrane transport

Seed Grants
Awarded in 2016

Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 8 - 2016

Liang Feng, Molecular & Cellular Physiology
Ron Dror, Computer Science

Transporter proteins shuttle a wide variety of cargo across the cell membrane, facilitating the transfer of material and information into and out of the cell. Transporters must undergo significant structural rearrangements in order to receive the cargo from one side of the membrane and release it to the other side. Despite intense study, however, it is still unknown how structural rearrangements in transporters give rise to highly selective cargo movement across the membrane. This is central to understanding transport function and malfunction. By combining experimental and computational approaches to study a carefully selected model transporter, our interdisciplinary team will uncover the physical basis of cross-membrane transport. In particular, we will combine biophysical and functional experiments with biomolecular simulations to capture the process of membrane transport at atomic resolution. This new knowledge will transform our understanding of transporters and help us to better target transporters for therapeutic purposes or biotechnological applications.