Archaea (sometimes called archaebacteria) are single-celled organisms that live under a variety of conditions, some of them unusual. As their genomes become available, it is clear that some of their biosynthetic enzymes are unrelated to those used by bacteria and eukaryotes.
These unique ("archaeal signature") enzymes are interesting for several reasons, including the possibility of industrial uses for enzymes already optimized for unusual conditions (i.e. high salt, high temperature, high pressure, etc).
Currently the focus in my lab is on purine biosynthesis, especially AICAR formyltransferase/IMP cyclohydrolase.
Student researchers are welcome to join my lab! Please come talk to me if you're interested. The minimum time commitment is 3 hours per week. You can work for academic credit, or just volunteer. You can also get paid to work full-time in the lab during the summer.
Related projects (are you interested?)
- Synthetic projects:
- Synthesize formylphosphate
- Synthesize FAICAR
- Molecular biology:
- Clone purP-like genes from one of several species of archaea (PCR)
- Grow and characterize E. coli cell lines containing various purine biosynthesis genes on plasmids
- Complementation studies with E. coli knockouts.
- Using techniques such as BLAST, identify gene patterns, look at gene promoters, etc. Interesting genes discovered with these methods may be experimentally characterized, or the project could be entirely computational.
- Work on alternate ways to detect these reactions.
Good background reading:
- http://archaea.ucsc.edu/ - described here
If you're interested in research, you might also like to review this page on research in the chemistry department.