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Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Time: 11:00 am
Speaker: Akif Tezcan, UC San Diego
Title: Chemical Control of Protein Self-Assembly
Location: 67-3111 Chemla Room


The projects in the Tezcan group focus on the elucidation of metal-catalyzed biological redox reactions, and the control of biological self-assembly through coordination chemistry.

Metal-Directed Protein-Protein Interactions and Protein Self-Assembly:
Protein-protein interactions (PPIs), whether formed transiently during signal transduction or permanently in macromolecular assemblies, are central to all cellular processes. The overarching goal of this multifaceted project is to develop tools based on inorganic coordination chemistry to guide protein-protein docking interactions, and apply them towards 1) the rational assembly of protein supramolecular structures and frameworks, 2) the evolution of functional metal centers in protein interfaces and 3) the control and interrogation of biological signaling pathways.

Understanding Biological Nitrogen Fixation:
The conversion of molecular nitrogen into bioavailable forms such as ammonia is essential for the biosynthesis of amino and nucleic acids, as well as the production of fertilizers and countless industrial chemicals. The extreme conditions required by the industrial nitrogen fixation processes, however, translate into an immense dependence on fossil fuels and account for 1-2% of all human energy consumption. Our goal in this project is to elucidate the molecular mechanism of nitrogenase, a redox-metalloenzyme that catalyzes nitrogen fixation at ambient conditions. In particular, we aim 1) to understand why and how ATP-hydrolysis is involved in nitrogen fixation, and 2) to drive the nitrogenase reaction by using light or electrochemical energy instead of ATP hydrolysis in order to achieve a better control and understanding of nitrogen-activation.

All projects in the Tezcan Group are inspired by a deep appreciation of nature's ability to control and exploit the chemistry of metal ions. They utilize a diverse array of tools ranging from molecular biology, chemical synthesis and computational protein design to spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy.