The long-term goal of the research undertaken in the lab is to determine how interactions between cell recognition molecules underpin communication between cells during the development of the nervous system. Currently, our work is focused on a family of cell surface receptors called contactins and the complexes they form with amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its homologs APLP1 and APLP2. The role of APP in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease is well described, while its normal physiological functions have not been explored as thoroughly. In particular, complexes between APP and contactins have been involved in axon guidance and synapse formation. My laboratory uses biochemical and structural (X-ray crystallography) approaches to gain insights into the contactin/APP interactions that underlie the development and maintenance of the nervous system.
An undergraduate student working in the lab can expect to acquire valuable skills in protein expression and purification. He/she will design and perform protein-protein binding assays and, hopefully, participate in protein crystallization and data collection.
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