Personal profile

Research interests

Structure-function studies of Cell-matrix and Adhesion proteins

My research is aimed to understand the intricate relations between structure and function for cell-matrix and adhesion proteins. Cells are able to adhere to large matrix assemblies by means of very specific surface proteins. Critical physiological and pathological processes such as immune response or metastasis are dependent on these cell-adhesion events. Cell adhesion proteins are usually glycosylated, transmembrane and multi-domain proteins, and therefore difficult to handle in structure-function studies. As their biological function is often localised in a few key domains that participate in interactions with their ligands, we can approach their study by producing separate domains using recombinant techniques. In collaboration with Martin Humphries we aim to investigate the interaction between cell surface integrins and matrix molecules such as fibronectin. Also, I am interested in the involuntary role played by cell adhesion proteins as gateways for invasive pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. Learning about the molecular know-how of these pathogens may provide crucial clues for our understanding and control of the mechanisms of cell-adhesion interactions.

I am also interested in the structure of collagens proteins and their interaction with other proteins in the assembly of the large supra-macromolecular structures of the extracellular matrix. The triple-helical regions of collagens are sometimes used as protein-protein interaction motifs, and I want to know how such simple structures can display enough specificity determinants to provide so many different functional interactions. Non-collagen proteins in these assemblies appear to be critical in regulating and modulating their correct shape and dimensions, as several connective tissue disorders relate genetically to a few amino acid changes in them. Structure-function studies on collagen and collagen-binding proteins, in collaboration with Paul Bishop, Cay Kielty and other research groups in the Centre, aim to improve our understanding these assemblies both in normal and diseased states.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Areas of expertise

  • QH301 Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Collagen
  • Protein Engineering
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Structural Biology
  • Crystallography
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • QD Chemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Collagen
  • Crystallography
  • QH426 Genetics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Collagen
  • QP Physiology
  • Biopharmaceuticals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Wound healing
  • Tissue Regeneration
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Collagen
  • RL Dermatology
  • Wound healing
  • Tissue Regeneration
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Collagen
  • RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
  • biopharmaceuticals
  • biomaterials
  • Wound healing
  • QR355 Virology
  • Virus Structure
  • Bacteriophages
  • Electron Microscopy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Biotechnology
  • Advanced materials
  • Digital Futures
  • Lydia Becker Institute
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute

Keywords

  • Collagen
  • Wound Healing
  • Biomaterials
  • Protein Engineering
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Cell-Matrix Adhesion
  • Structural Biology
  • Crystallography
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biophysics

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