Membrane transport proteins – channels and energy-coupled pumps – are the molecular gatekeepers of the cell. For microbes subsisting in a hostile environment, these proteins import vital nutrients and export dangerous toxins. My lab is currently focused on discovering and understanding novel microbial membrane proteins. By revealing the functions of these unannotated membrane proteins, we uncover interesting microbial physiologies and identify novel microbial vulnerabilities.
Recent targets include fluoride channels, which protect bacteria against toxic environmental fluoride ion, and guanidinium ion exporters, which have an interesting evolutionary relationship to multidrug exporters involved in antibiotic resistance. Our lab uses a breadth of biochemical and biophysical techniques to study these proteins, including electrophysiology, membrane protein biochemistry, x-ray crystallography, and macromolecular NMR..