The research in my laboratory is focussed on the biophysical properties of a diverse family of photoactive membrane retinal-binding proteins, rhodopsins. Rhodopsins are found both in bacteria and higher organisms, and serve either as light-driven ion pumps (important in bioenergetics) or photosensors (important in microbial motility, animal vision, and circadian clocks).
We combine modern biophysical methods (including time-resolved spectroscopy in the visible, FTIR spectroscopy, SPR, NMR, and Raman spectroscopy) with molecular biology and biochemistry. Currently, we are working on three major themes.
Exploring novel microbial rhodopsins that may have a role in various light-driven processes, starting with bioinformatics and ending with advanced spectroscopy. This research is important for our understanding of bioenergetics and sensory transduction of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes, and may lead to finding new tools for optogenetics.
Using cyanobacterial and proteobacterial rhodopsins as model membrane proteins to study protein-lipid interactions, oligomerization, and folding, mainly by solid-state NMR spectroscopy (collaboration with V. Ladizhansky, Guelph). This research is important for advancing our understanding of structure/function relationship in helical membrane proteins.
Exploring the functional expression and isotope labeling of helical eukaryotic membrane proteins, including Leptosphaeria rhodopsin, human aquaporins 1/2, and A2A receptor for solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (in collaboration with V. Ladizhansky). This research is important for developing structural characterization of medically important membrane proteins under nearly physiological conditions.
Recipient, PREA (Premier's Research Excellence Award), Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ontario, Canada, 2003
RIA (Research Innovation Award), Research Corporation, Tucson, AZ, USA, 2003
Short-term JSPS Invitation Fellowship, from JSPS, Japan, which allowed me to spent two month in Japan doing research and giving lectures in several universities, 2006
Received DAAD and Ontario-Baden-Württemberg scholarships to conduct research in Berlin and Freiburg, Germany, 2016