Prof. Ramaswamy S
The molecular basis of function - trying to understand biological process from the first principles of physics and chemistry.
The overall program in the laboratory is to understand how atomic resolution structural information affects biological function.
Historically the group has been interested in Rieske non-heme iron oxygenases - this interest continues and the lab now works on eukaryotic Rieske oxygenases.
A large part of the lab is interested in Sugars - its metabolism, transport and function. Sialic acids are nine carbon sugars that are used by several bacteria as their carbon source. Some of these bacteria also incorporate these sugars as the outermost sugar in their glycolipids. The lab has been investigating the different fates of sialic acids in gram negative bacteria. Here we are working in collaboration with groups in the USA and Sweden on the mechanisms of import of these sugars, their catabolism and pathways of incorporation from a structural and mechanistic perspective. We hope to identify new drug targets against these bacteria that often cause sepsis. Example of a well studied bacteria that uses this molecular mimicry to evade immune system is the commensal pathogen H. influenzae.
In Eukaryotes we are interested in understanding the structure function correlations of Nucleotide Sugar transporters. Very little is known about how they function in atomic resolution and we are working hard to crystallize and determine structures of these proteins.
Curiosity and understanding how biology works is a major part of the labs research enterprise. Towards this we worked on cockroaches (See links in publications tab), walleye, Hydra and now on Planaria.
While the expertise of Rams is X-ray crystallography, the lab uses a wide variety of techniques, collaborates generously and uses technologies like genomics, molecular biology, mass-spectrometry, NMR and a number of other biophysical techniques.
The motto of the lab is simple – do the experiments that are challenging and fun - lots of people want to do the routine stuff.