Structural Cellular Biology Unit (Ulf Skoglund)

Unit Outline

Ulf Skoglund

Structural Cellular Biology Unit

Professor Ulf Skoglund

ulf.skoglund at oist.jp

 

Members

Research

Aim

Our goal is to understand the function of proteins in cells and tissues. The techniques of electron microscopy, including molecular electron tomography (MET), are the main tools in our unit, though we will draw upon well-established complementary techniques when called for.

Why MET

The ability to visualize individual macromolecules, whether in tissue or isolated, enables us to describe the dynamics of the different macromolecules and how they bind and interact with each other. Thus we believe that the MET technique will play an important role in the analysis of supra-molecular complexes such as elucidation of the mode of action of the cell’s molecular machines. E.g. in a signal transduction case, by combining data from 3D reconstructed individual protein molecules with different conformations, we derived chemical equilibrium constants that govern the molecules conformational dependency on the concentration of calcium ions.

Projects and methods

Our unit runs research projects that concern method developments, applications, and rewarding and exciting collaborations with other groups. We run several ambitious software development projects that will enable higher resolution, meet future hardware developments in imaging, realize at least semiautomatic analysis of individual macromolecules, and allow for large numbers of macromolecules to be analyzed. This will make it possible to determine thermodynamic and chemical parameters for specific macromolecular conformations based on experiments.
Our application developments concern the establishment of practical, efficient and fast methods to study specimen both in vitro and in situ at high resolution in 3D. We are also improving our method for studying macromolecules directly in artificial lipid vesicles, allowing more realistic 3D structural determinations of proteins in membranes.

MET theory, practical usage, and problem formulations within structural cellular biology are well suited for advanced research courses, also in combination with other courses.

Click here to see our research projects in detail.