Many major questions in receptor biology centre on how interactions occurring outside the cell trigger signalling inside the cell. To answer such questions for the biomedically relevant systems used in human cells we need to be able to express, purify and structurally analyse membrane spanning glycoproteins. Many of the necessary methodologies have only very recently been developed, and these are now bearing fruit, so this is a very exciting time for the field of receptor research. We are one of relatively few structural biology laboratories worldwide with very substantial expertise in eukaryotic expression systems combined with access to methodologies ranging from protein crystallography and cryoEM to super-resolution light microscopy. My group provides opportunities for doctoral students who wish to use these facilities to undertake research into the detailed molecular mechanisms of cell surface receptor signalling systems. Current work underway in my laboratory focuses on macromolecular systems mediating cell-to-cell interactions which are of fundamental importance during embryogenesis as well as in adult tissue homeostasis. These studies follow two major themes:
A flavour of our work on the extracellular side of the cell surface can be gained from recent publications (Kong et al Neuron 2016; Kakugawa et al Nature 2015), current work in the laboratory is now heading into the membrane and involves a spectrum of techniques which seamlessly span from the atomic to the cellular scale.