My doctoral studies are focussed on the structural characterisation of the G-protein coupled receptor, Smoothened.
Smoothened (SMO) is a key component of the Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway. Dysregulation of this pathway can lead to aberrant embryogenesis or, in mature cells, can contribute to certain types of cancer. SMO transduces the Hh morphogen signal across the receiving cell's plasma membrane, ultimately allowing the cell to respond to this signal. However, the precise mechanism by which it achieves this is yet to be elucidated. SMO is a clinically-relevant drug target for several forms of cancer, including advanced basal cell carcinoma. Through structural studies of SMO, I hope to provide a clearer picture of how this essential pathway functions and a deeper understanding of how drugs affect it.
My supervisor is Professor Christian Siebold.