SERMACS 2019

Amanda, Suela, Ken, and Gregory presented their work at Frontiers in Nucleic Acids Chemistry section of the 71st Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS) in Savannah, GA on October 22 and 23. Frontiers is a long-running annual event for nucleic acids scientists far and wide (not limited to the Southeast). We are grateful to Drs. Dev Arya (Clemson), Fenfei Leng (FIU), and Nathaniel Shank (Georgia Southern) for organizing this year’s event.

Gibbs 2019

Suela, Ken, and Gregory returned to the 2019 iteration of the Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics at Carbondale IL. Ken gave an talk on his work on molecular dynamics simulations of expanded ensemble. Suela and Gregory gave posters on behalf of the group. As usual, it was a refreshing experience out in the woods and a great opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues in the field.

Presentation at AIRAPT 27

Gregory gave an overview of the group’s work at the 27th International Conference on High Pressure Science and Technology, the flagship meeting of the Association Internationale pour l’Avancement de la Recherche et de la Technologie aux Hautes Pressions (AIRAPT, International Association for the Advancement of High Pressure Science and Technology) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with a broad range of researchers working on problems relating to soft-matter solvation in biology. And then of course there is the South Atlantic literally 100 m from the conference venue…

The group picture at the Windsor Barra Hotel.
The beach right outside the Windsor Barra Hotel in the Barra da Tijuca district.
This is winter in Rio.

Mini-Workshop at INBEB

My thanks to Professor Jerson Silva for hosting Professor Roland Winter and myself at the National Institute of Science and Technology for Structural Biology and Bioimaging (INBEB) in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) on August 8, 2019! In addition to our seminar and a broad-ranging discussion with an enthusiastic group of participants, we had a tour of the biophysical facilities at INBEB, which are truly spectacular! Muito obrigardo, Jerson!

Presentation at PULSUS conference

Van Ha, our undergraduate researcher who is beginning her M.S. degree with us this fall, presented her work in the mechanism of DNA recognition by anti-leukemic small molecules at the 24th International Conference on Cancer Research and Pharmacology in Singapore on August 5, 2019. We are excited for this international exposure for our small-molecule project and a an outstanding venue for Van so early in her career.

Group photo with other presenters in the same session.
The famous Merlion statue at the waterfront.

Summer research fellows

Congratulations to our two summer research fellows, Elizabeth Ross and Mahtab Khanezarran! Elizabeth and Mahtab completed an 8-week NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) and a GSU Molecular Basis of Disease fellowship, respectively. We thank Amanda and Suela, their graduate mentors, for running things ├╝ber-smoothly in the lab and coaching their poster presentations.

Mechanism of target selection by an ETS protein solved for the first time in JBC

Congratulations to Ken and Suela as co-first authors on a joint molecular dynamics/experimental paper that elucidates the mechanism of target DNA selection by the paradigm ETS-family transcription factor, ETS-1. This is, in our view, a major achievement in the ETS field as the first mechanistically complete description of target selectivity by any ETS family member. Ken also showed off his artistic abilities in making the cover in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry that will carry this work.

A new look at DNA end-binding

Binding at the ends of DNA is an important area of debate in ligand-DNA interactions. Historically, end-binding is determined by model-specific analysis, subject to any number of a priori assumptions about the nature of binding. A new joint work with Dr. W. David Wilson’s group has for the first time examined the phenomenology of end-binding, as measured by fluorescence spectroscopy, by a vigorous model-independent approach. We used the ETS transcription factor, ETV6, as model and quantified its binding to DNA ends as a function of sequence length, identity, and salt concentrations. Congratulations to Tam from David’s lab for the high quality data that made this study possible!

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