Receptor Structure and Drug Discovery Laboratory

Membrane proteins are located on the surface of all types of cells and are involved in processes such as sensing neurotransmitters, driving neural impulses involved in mood and cognition, and responding to drug treatment.

However, the instability of membrane proteins makes them difficult to study, which is where we come in.

Membrane proteins are a class of proteins that are particularly unstable, yet are highly important as they are the main targets for most prescription drugs. Protein instability poses a major barrier to the characterisation and deployment of many proteins into industrial and biotechnological applications. We use novel technology (CHESS) to engineer stabilised membrane proteins, particularly neuropeptide-binding G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), to aid in elucidating the atomic level mechanisms that govern their function and to facilitate novel drug discovery.

A particular focus of the laboratory is engineering members of the relaxin receptor family to enable greater understanding of how these receptors work at the molecular level and in turn enable the design of drugs targeting these important receptors. We also use this technology to engineer highly stable versions of other protein classes, such as fluorescent proteins and enzymes, for biotechnological and industrial applications.

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