Since ~50-85% of all drug targets for the next decade are membrane-bound proteins, this important class of biological macromolecule lends itself to non-native uses as sensors, detectors and control devices.

Photoreceptor proteins can be used as light detectors and nanometer-scale photoswitches.

Small molecule-activated receptors can be employed to detect small molecules such as hormones or drugs and can act as signal amplifiers.

Membrane proteins have many bionanotechnological advantages, including: (sub)-nanometer scale, single molecule application, very high chemical and biological specificity, fast response times, and exceptionally high efficiency.

We are investigating the functional mechanism of these membrane proteins, modulation with small molecule modulators and protein­lipid interactions on an atomic level. These studies serve as a basis for the design of novel functional units and membrane proteins with new functions. A series of techniques such as NMR spectroscopy, molecular dynamics simulations, and bilayer recordings, supported by solid phase peptide synthesis and expression is used in our laboratories. The projects are supported by the Bionanotechnology IRC which is based on funding from the BBSRC.

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