Abstract: The selective and fine-tuned movement of ions across cellular membranes is critical for many biological and physiological processes. My research has focused on understanding how ion channel proteins transport ions like K+ and H+ across the membrane at the molecular level. Through a combination of biophysics and protein design, I am able to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which these channels function. Here, I define the roles of water and hydrophobic domains in proton channels for the selective transport of protons across cell membranes. By engineering artificial proton channels with key structural features, I am able to test the hypothesis of water wire formation in proton channel activity. This research opens up new avenues for membrane protein design to test hypotheses of function and to engineer novel, functional membrane proteins.
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