Research in the lab of Dr. Maofu Liao
Structural Basis of Protein-Lipid Interaction
The research interests of the Liao group focus on understanding the structure and function of membrane proteins such as transporters and ion channels. The group’s particular interest is to reveal the mechanisms of how proteins sense, move and convert specific lipid molecules. This will be achieved by obtaining high-resolution structures of lipid-interacting proteins, and by studying the dynamic protein conformations in native membrane environment.
Single-Particle Cryo- Electron Microscopy (cryo-EM)
Cryo-EM is a rapidly advancing research area, powered by the knowledge of biology, physics, material science and computation. Single-particle cryo-EM is a 'rising star' in structural biology, providing remarkably versatile and powerful tools to study the structure and function of biological macromolecules. Single-particle cryo-EM has achieved near-atomic resolution for biological samples ranging from large icosahedral viruses (~100 MDa) to relatively small membrane ion channel (~300 kDa). Compared to more traditional methods such as X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy, cryo-EM demonstrates a number of important advantages, such as small amount of sample required for EM analysis, flexibility in studying different functional states, and computational sorting of mixed conformations.