School of Chemistry Webinar: Prof. Sharon Ruthstein (Bar-Ilan University) Gaining molecular level information on the cellular copper cycle by EPR spectroscopy

In the last couple of years, my lab has been exploring the cellular copper cycle in eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy.
While most of the proteins involved in the copper cycle are believed to be known, as well as some of the crystal structures, there is still lack of information on the kinetic and the transfer mechanism of the copper in the cellular environment. Since dysfunction of the copper regulation system can lead to neurological diseases, cancer, and to the cell death, it is essential to understand every little detail in the copper cycle to be able to control it according to specific needs.
EPR has become a powerful tool for studying complex dynamic biological systems since it is not limited to the protein size and does not require crystallization. Hence, the biological system can be studied in solution, lipids, and even the cellular environment.
In our group, we are applying various EPR measurements together with computations, biochemistry experiments, CD and NMR to identify the copper binding sites, as well as to understand how one protein in the cycle coordinated to another protein to transfer the metal ion. We target the conformational changes that occur in each protein, and we aim to gain also important information on the transfer mechanism.
In this talk, I will present our recent results on the copper transfer mechanism in the human and E. coli cell. I will also demonstrate how basic understanding of the function of these systems can assist us in designing novel therapeutic and diagnostic compounds.

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