Basic/Translational Research, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center,
Various leukocytes and epithelial cells produce endogenous antimicrobial peptides that serve us as natural antibiotics. Our laboratory examines these peptides at many levels, ranging from their initial discovery, to their structural characterization and mechanistic analysis. During the past decade, we have examined antibiotic peptides produced by humans, rabbits, rodents, horses, pigs, birds and sea squirts (tunicates). Possibly that is why it’s so hard to keep our lab clean.
Recently, we have concentrated on a family of cyclic octadecapeptides called theta-defensins. These are the only known cyclic peptides of animal origin (rhesus monkeys have them), and they are miniature lectins whose that block the ability of HIV-1 and HSV-2 to enter cells.
Because of my age, I would not be a safe bet for a graduate student about to embark on a 4-5 year graduate school odyssey. However, my lab does many interesting things related to bioactive peptides and innate immunity, and if you would like to drop by and learn more about them, you are welcome to do so.
Function of antimicrobial peptides
Leukocytes, epithelial cells and glands produce endogenous antimicrobial peptides that serve as natural antibiotics. Our laboratory examines these antimicrobial peptides at many levels, from their initial discovery (by "grind and find" biochemistry), to characterizing their structure (by sequencing and cloning) , and then trying to figure out how they work (by any methods that we can). During the past decade, we have discovered antibiotic peptides produced by humans, rabbits, rodents, horses, pigs and birds. Possibly that is why its so hard to keep our lab clean.
We have been occupied for the past few years examining a family of antibiotic peptides called protegrins, and have just started to look for antimicrobial factors in human tears. We are also purifying various antimicrobial peptides from the hemocytes of tunicates (sea-squirts), simple marine protochordate ancestors of the vertebrates.
A selected list of publications: