Dr Sarah Shammas
Role of protein disorder within transcriptional regulation
By controlling which of our genes get translated into proteins, the process of transcription decides every cell’s fate - for cells to develop into the intended type and remain healthy, it is important that the correct proteins are made, in the correct amounts, and at the correct times. Our research investigates how the bZIP family of specific transcription factors regulate transcription within our cells. We want to inspire strategies for tackling diseases, and for designing efficient artificial transcription factors.
We are particularly interested in the role of a key feature of most transcription factors – intrinsic disorder. It’s now over two decades since the discovery that a significant proportion of eukaryotic proteins contain long disordered regions. These proteins seem to mock the original structure-function paradigm of protein biochemistry by being functional despite having no single stable structure - instead they have many different conformations that interchange very rapidly. But we have yet to address some fundamental questions in a quantitative way. How functionally important is protein disorder for signalling proteins? Why? And through what mechanism(s)? This is an exciting time for experimentalists as we are discovering and testing our answers to these questions. Our team is combining biophysical approaches, in particular kinetic studies, with structural biology (NMR and ESR), and single molecule imaging within living cells.
If you’d like to learn more about our team, research and publications then please visit shammaslab.com