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DBT to begin research in areas of 'Structural Biology of Membrane Proteins'

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Saturday, November 11, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will soon begin research in the areas of 'Structural Biology of Membrane Proteins' which is aimed to encourage and nurture multidisciplinary and collaborative research in this field. The DBT has now invited research proposals from eligible scientists built upon innovative ideas in the areas of membrane proteins.

The area of research included transmembrane proteins in human diseases and drug discovery; multi-protein assembles on cell membranes in various physiological processes; plant and animal organelle membrane proteins such as nucleus, golgi, chloroplast etc; bacterial and viral membrane proteins and their complexes with host factors; and cell surface protein and ligand assemblies involved in important physiological processes, etc.

Membrane proteins and their complexes play crucial roles in many cellular and physiological processes. They are essential mediators of material, information, and energy transfer between cells and their environment, between compartments within the cell, and between compartments comprising the organ systems. Functionally normal membrane proteins are vital to health, and specific defects are associated with many known disease states. Membrane proteins are the targets of a large number of pharmacologically and toxicologically active substances and are responsible, in part, for their uptake, metabolism, and clearance.

Extensive research is ongoing in the area of membrane protein structure and function, yet relatively few investigators have successfully applied the techniques of x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, or NMR spectroscopy to solve the high resolution structures of their proteins due to the intrinsic challenges. Even though 30-40% protein of the cells are known to be membrane proteins, yet only approximately 100 unique membrane protein structures have been solved, and each structure has made a major contribution in its respective area of science. Therefore, it is apparent that a special effort is needed to promote studies of membrane protein structures. An increase in the number of known membrane protein structures will contribute to an enhanced understanding of many basic phenomena underlying cellular functions important to human health.

Applications may be submitted by public and private universities, colleges, institutes, non-profit organizations (recognized by DSIR as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO). It is expected that some of the projects will be collaborative efforts between and among chemists, biochemists, molecular biologists, and biophysicists with expertise in the synthesis of probes, novel solubilizing and stabilizing reagents; cloning and expression; isolation and characterization of membrane-bound proteins; and in x-ray crystallography, NMR, and other structural methods.


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