Keyword: Protein structure and biochemistry

Baozhong Meng

The ultimate goal of my research is to understand viruses and viral diseases for the betterment of agriculture. Our research involves a number of important viruses that infect plants, which include Grapevine rupestris stem pitting-associated virus (GRSPaV), a ubiquitous and important pathogen of grapes worldwide. Current research directions include: Processing and subcellular localization of polyproteins; structure and cellular localization of viral replication complexes; evolution and bio-informatics of grapevine viruses; development of virus-induced gene-silencing vectors ; and, development and application of technologies for the diagnosis of grapevine viruses.

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Annette Nassuth

My research group investigates biotic and abiotic stress on plants at the cellular and sub-cellular biochemical and molecular levels. The objective is to identify what changes occur in plant cells upon exposure to stress and which of these changes aid the plant to increase its tolerance to the stress.A major focus currently is the investigation of freezing stress tolerance in grapevines. Winters in Ontario can cause substantial damage to the cultivated grapes used in the Wine Industry, whereas wild grapes have no problems. We try to find out what the molecular basis is for this phenomenon. The ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to improve freezing and drought stress tolerance in the cultivated grapes.

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Siavash Vahidi

A key focus of the group is on the protein degradation machinery that helps to maintain proper level of proteins (protein homeostasis) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB, the world's single largest infectious killer that is annually responsible for 1.5 million deaths. The questions we aim to answer are:
1) What is the assembly mechanism of the M. tuberculosis proteasome core particle and its regulatory particles?
2) What is the role of allostery and long-range interactions in the machinery that tags substrates for proteasomal degradation?
3) How are substrates selected for tagging and degradation?
4) What is the molecular basis of antibiotics that operate by disrupting proteasomal protein degradation?

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George van der Merwe

We study the transcriptomic and proteomic adaptation of yeasts to changing nutrient environments, as well as their domestication and fermentation to better understand yeast performance and potentially develop strategies and predictions of fermentation efficiencies and flavour compound production during alcoholic fermentations. We also look at yeast diversity and the unique flavour compounds that could expand product diversity in the wine, beer and cider industries.

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John Vessey

My research focuses on asymmetric RNA localization and localized translational control in animal species. I have also studied asymmetric RNA localization in neural stem cells and their contribution to both cellular differentiation and cortical development across species. Currently, my students and I are investigating various proteins that we think are important for RNA regulation during brain development.

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Chris Whitfield

Research in my laboratory is focused on the architecture and assembly of the cell surfaces of pathogenic bacteria. Current areas of emphasis are:
1) Structure and function of multi-enzyme complexes required for the export of capsular polysaccharides through the periplasm and across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.
2) Structural basis for substrate recognition by ABC transporters involved in the export of bacterial cell-surface polysaccharides.
3) Structure and function studies of prokaryotic glycosyltransferase enzymes.
4) Mechanisms that couple glycan biosynthesis and chain extension to transport pathways.

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Melanie Wills

My research group focuses on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of Lyme disease. I focus on different topics within this research theme, including: 1) the various forms that Borrelia (Lyme bacteria) can adopt and their corresponding role in the expression of the disease; 2) the effects of people and batceria genetics in the expression of of the disease; 3) the development of new diagnostic tools; and, 4) the interactions that people diagnosed with Lyme disease have with the medical system.

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Marica Bakovic

My background is in molecular and cell biology of lipid metabolism. Currently, my students and I work on the regulation of membrane phospholipids, fatty acids, and methyl-group donors. More specifically, we look at regulation of genes involved in choline transport and phospholipid metabolism; nutrient transporters and kinetics of membrane transport; molecular and cell biology of lipids; the effect of nutrients on protein synthesis and gene expression; and, nutritional genomics (nutrigenomics) of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.

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Leah Bent

The primary goals of my research program are 1) to understand where posture is controlled 2) to understand what sensory information contributes to successful movement and equilibrium.
By investigating these two key questions I believe we will have a better understanding of how sensory decline contributes to a loss of mobility as we age. My research program involves two key areas of study:
1) To perform direct recordings from sensory afferents and motor efferents in awake human subjects to investigate sensory contributions to movement, balance control, and reflex responses.
2) To elicit balance perturbations to test the function of these reflex loops, and sensory contributions to the maintenance of equilibrium and postural control.

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Andrea Clark

More than 4 million Canadians have arthritis and the number of people living with arthritis continues to increase year after year. Osteoarthritis involves multiple tissues and often includes cartilage damage, bone sclerosis and synovial inflammation. A pressing need remains for joint localized therapies and interventions that could slow or ideally stop this debilitating disease.
In our research, we use genetic and surgical models of spontaneous osteoarthritis (with old age) and post-traumatic osteoarthritis (following injury). We follow the progression of disease in a joint in order to better understand how proteins such as TRPV4, integrin alpha1beta1 and cilia influence chondrocyte signal transduction and thus the development of osteoarthritis.

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Clara Cho

The primary goals of our research program include: 1) to determine the fundamental role of methyl nutrients in health outcomes; 2) to determine molecular mechanisms underlying the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases; and, 3) to contribute to evidence-based strategies that will improve the health of the population.

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Dave Dyck

My interests lie in the regulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism in skeletal muscle, with a particular emphasis on the dysregulation that occurs in obesity and diabetes. Several cytokines released from skeletal muscle, including leptin and adiponectin, are known to significantly affect insulin response in peripheral tissues such as muscle. My research has focused on the effects of these adipokines on muscle lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, and particularly, how the muscle becomes resistant to their effects in obese models and with high fat feeding. The interaction of diet and exercise is also a point of interest in terms of the muscle's response to various hormones including insulin, leptin and adiponectin.

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Jen Monk

My students and I aim to understand the mechanistic role(s) of microbial-host intestinal communication. In particular, we focus on how microbial-derived metabolites (from dietary precursors) can influence the integrity of the colonic epithelial barrier (EB), as well as its capacity for defense and repair. The importance of this research lies on not only advancing basic knowledge on the effect of microbial metabolites on gastrointestinal functions, but also on informing the agri-food sector the ways in which the intake of nutrients, biomolecules, and dietary precursors can shape human health.

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Nicholas Bernier

Our research is focused on identifying and understanding the pathways by which environmental and social stressors are perceived, processed, and transduced into a neuroendocrine response. Several projects are aimed at elucidating how the neuroendocrine system orchestrates the stress response and focused specifically on the physiological functions of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system. Another major focus of the lab is to investigate the interactions between the neuroendocrine pathways that regulate the stress response and those involved in the regulation of appetite and growth.

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Ray Lu

My lab focuses on two main axes of research:
1) Unfolded Protein Response and Human Diseases: We study proteins that play key roles in animal stress responses, specifically the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), which has been linked to animal development, cell differentiation, as well as a variety of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and viral infection.
2) Molecular Mechanisms of Aging: We are working to establish planarians as a new aging model to test the hypothesis that longevity requires multiplex resistance to stress. We hope to identify genes or alleles that confer such multiplex stress resistance and/or promote longevity.

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Rod Merrill

My research is in the general area of protein structure and dynamics and is specifically focused on the biochemistry of bacterial toxins involved in disease and consists of the following projects: Membrane structure of the colicin E1 ion channel; data mining and bioinformatics of bacterial virulence factors; optical spectroscopic approaches to study protein structure and dynamics; enzyme reaction mechanism of the bacterial mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase family; inhibition mechanisms and structural complexes of toxins with inhibitors; and, X-ray structures of protein-protein complexes involving toxins.

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Robert Mullen

My research focuses on three main areas of plant cell biology:
1) Characterization of enzymes involved in seed oil biosynthesis.
2) Understanding various aspects of the biogenesis of peroxisomes, including how membrane proteins are targeted to this organelle, and what role the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) serves in the formation of peroxisomes.
3) Identification and characterization of a unique class of integral membrane proteins known as "Tail-Anchored" (TA) proteins.

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Malcolm Campbell

As they are literally rooted in place, plants possess remarkable mechanisms that perceive, interpret, and respond to internal and external cues so as to optimise plant growth and development relative to prevailing environment conditions. Despite the incredible diversity in plant forms, the molecular mechanisms that control plant responses to internal and external cues are highly conserved across diverse genera. The timing and localisation of these mechanisms shape plant and development. Our research team aims to gain greater insights into molecular mechanisms that plants employ to convert internal cues and external signals into appropriate adjustments in resource acquisition and allocation, focusing on the role of gene regulation in conditioning these adjustments.

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Marc Coppolino

Cell adhesion and migration are fundamentally important to the existence of multicellular organisms. This is obvious in light of the numerous diseases that can afflict humans when these processes are impaired. Disruption of normal cellular adhesive and migratory activities can lead to developmental disorders and contribute to the progression of arthritis, immunological deficiencies and cancer. Both cell adhesion and migration are complex processes involving numerous biochemical signalling events, reorganization of the cellular cytoskeleton and localized remodelling of the plasma membrane. It is the goal of my laboratory to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that link these activities, allowing them to be coordinated during changes in cell adhesion and motility.

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Nina Jones

Research in our laboratory is focused on defining eukaryotic signal transduction pathways, and investigating how mutations in components of these pathways can contribute to human disease. Signal transduction is a central process in multicellular organisms that allows for the exchange of informational cues between and within cells. Current areas of research include: 1) Signalling pathways controlling kidney podocyte morphology; 2) focal adhesion dynamics in cancer cells; and, 3) characterization of a novel neuronal adaptor protein, ShcD.

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Scott Ryan

While animal models have lead to huge advancements in our understanding of neurobiology, there is controversy over whether overexpression/silencing of gene expression is representative of diverse disease states. Indeed, the lack of availability of primary human neurons has made evaluating the pathological consequences of genomic mutations arduous. The use of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology overcomes these limitations by providing a source of human neurons from both normal and disease genetic backgrounds. We currently focus on stem cell based models of Parkinson's Disease (PD) to study how mitochondrial stress mechanisms impact on neuronal function in human disease.

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Ian Tetlow

My lab examines the control mechanisms underpinning starch biosynthesis in leaf chloroplasts (which make starch during the daytime, and degrade it at night) of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, and non-photosynthetic amyloplasts of cereal endosperms such as maize, wheat, barley and rice which make storage starches. More specifically, we are interested in the biochemical control mechanisms governing the many enzymes and enzyme classes which make up the core pathway of starch biosynthesis. This involves investigating the role of protein-protein interactions and protein phosphorylation in coordinating the proteins involved in starch synthesis and degradation within the plastid to produce the highly ordered and complex structure of the starch granule.

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Shaun Sanders

The Sanders lab is interested in how neurons use the protein-lipid modification palmitoylation to target proteins to subcellular locations and to define how palmitoylation-dependent targeting contributes to physiological neuronal function and neuropathological conditions. Current projects include characterizing how palmitoylation of vesicular transport machinery regulates fast axonal transport and how palmitoylation of ion channels and their scaffold proteins regulates clustering at the axon initial segment, a critical site of neuronal excitability where action potentials are generated.

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Matthew Kimber

For bacteria, survival requires evading detection. Pathogens must evade their host, but all bacteria need to avoid being targeted by phages. Gram negative bacteria’s survival depends on lipopolysaccharide and capsule – highly complex carbohydrate molecules that coat their outer surface. The enzymes that produce these molecules are complex, drawing on a large set of basic modules but then tweaking and combining them into new organizations that accomplish unique ends. My lab is focused on understanding how the structures and large-scale architectures of these enzymes create the enormous variety of unique custom carbohydrates observed in nature. To this end, we use crystallography, enzymology, and a variety of biophysical assays and bioinformatics tools to better understand these proteins.

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