Dr. Randy Stockbridge
Department of Biophysics
University of Michigan
Title: “Nature’s Minimalist Membrane Transport Proteins”
Abstract: Microbes have contended with numerous and unusual chemical threats throughout evolutionary time, and in response have evolved a catalogue of specialized membrane export proteins to deal with hostile elements. This talk will focus on a pair of primitive microbial transport proteins that protect bacteria against two ancient, omnipresent toxins, fluoride and guanidinium ion. Both ions resemble common metabolites, and thus have broad-spectrum inhibitory effects on metabolism in the absence of membrane exporters. Using biochemistry, electrophysiology, and x-ray crystallography, we characterize these proteins in order to understand their molecular mechanisms. As these proteins are among Nature’s simplest designs, their study reveals fundamental insights into membrane protein architecture and evolution.