We are studying multicomponent assemblies involved in the regulation of the expression of genetic information through controlling the fate of messenger RNA. We hope to understand how such post-transcriptional regulation enables rapid and specific response to developmental or environmental stimuli. We are studying assemblies that can target specific transcripts by interacting with non-coding regulatory RNAs, and our structural and biochemical studies are providing insight into the mechanism of this targeted gene silencing. Our structural data has enabled us to propose models for substrate recognition and allosteric activation of components of the assemblies.
We have also undertaken a study of the control of systems which transport proteins and antibiotics from the cell. We have obtained the structure of tripartite assemblies that span the cell envelope of Gram-negative bacteria. A structural view of these systems has helped to understand the molecular bases of bacterial virulence and drug resistance.
We directly visualise the individual components and their complexes at an atomic level using X-ray diffraction and cryo-EM to reveal the intricate and subtle structures which underlie these complexes. We also use a number of other complementary techniques to analyse macromolecular complexes.