Proper macromolecular protein complex assembly is critical for maintaining human health. These precise interactions are necessary for modulating various cellular processes such as activity of signaling pathways, providing feedback regulation, and mediating transport and transfer of molecules among partners. Unfortunately, there are numerous painful, debilitating, and life-threatening diseases that occur due to genetic mutations that prevent proper protein assembly. Our approach is to use X-ray crystallography and other complementary biochemical techniques to understand how these various mutations lead to changes in protein structure and function, thus preventing proper macromolecular assembly. We focus on areas of human health related to mitochondrial biology and metabolism. Specifically, we seek to understand assembly mechanisms responsible for regulation of heme biosynthesis, which is altered in several blood diseases, and maintenance of mitochondrial DNA copy number, which has direct implication in proper neuronal development.
The Brown Lab is looking for highly-motivated graduate students from both the IGP and QCB programs. Interested students should email Professor Brown for more information.