Research

 

Our research is focused on the molecular mechanisms behind life processes that involve biological membranes. Biological membranes form the barriers which separate in from out in biological systems. They consist of a bilayer, built up of many different lipids, in which proteins are embedded that are responsible for many specific functions of membranes. Interactions between these proteins and lipids are of key essence for membrane biogenesis, membrane organization and membrane function, but they are also major factors in the mode of action of polypeptide toxins, antibiotics and amyloid forming proteins. Our research is mostly fundamental but it also contributes to better insight into membrane related diseases (e.g. type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer, Barth syndrome) and new ways to make more effective drugs (e.g. antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs or antiviral drugs).

Aim

It is the aim of our research to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying membrane assembly, organization, homeostasis and function with special emphasis on the lipid-protein interactions involved. In addition it is our goal to unravel the role of the membrane in the mode of action of drugs, membrane-active antibiotics and amyloid forming proteins

Approach

To achieve these objectives we combine studies on biological systems with studies on more simple well-defined model membrane systems. Our research is highly multidisciplinary and combines chemical biology approaches with the use of a wide range of advanced biochemical, biophysical, molecular and cell biological techniques.

Biophysical techniques which are employed in our research include fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism, preparation of model membranes, calorimetry (DSC, ITC), solid state NMR, thin layer chromatography and mass spectrometry. These techniques are used in combination with peptide and protein synthesis/expression/purification, cloning, site-directed mutagenesis, use of micro-arrays, biomembrane isolation and handling methods. For a list of available equipment and expertise click here.

Research programme Our research is divided in three programmes 1. Prof. dr. Antoinette Killian - Protein/lipid interactions, amyloid-forming proteins 2. Dr. Eefjan Breukink - Bacterial cell wall synthesis and antibiotics 3. Dr. Toon de Kroon - Lipd metabolism, nanocapsules