The overall interest of our lab is the mechanism of receptor transmembrane signaling. We focus on cell surface receptors with single transmembrane domains, such as integrins, receptor tyrosine kinases, and receptor-like tyrosine phosphatases. We study how these receptors transmit signals across cell membrane through conformational regulation upon ligand binding at the extracellular domain or stimulations impinging on the cytoplasmic domain. We are using structural biology, biochemistry, and cell biology techniques to illustrate the mechanism of receptor-ligand interactions and conformational changes required for transmembrane signaling at the extracellular, transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains.
Ongoing projects include investigating the conformational requirement for integrin bi-directional transmembrane signaling, structural and functional basis of integrin as pathogen receptors, integrin ligand interaction, and developing antibodies and small molecules targeting or stabilizing specific integrin conformation. Integrins are the important cell surface receptors that regulate cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions in development, hemostasis, antigen recognition, homing and inflammation. Integrin activation is dysregulated under pathological conditions, such as autoimmune disease and thrombosis. Our long-term goal is to understand the correlation of receptor conformational regulation and signal transduction and to help to design more efficient and safe therapeutic agents.
Jiafu Liu, PhD
Can Zhang, PhD
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