Welcome to the Laboratory of Enrique M. De La Cruz in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. Identifying the chemical and physical principles of work production by molecular motor protein enzymes and polymers has emerged as a major area in contemporary Biochemistry and Biophysics. Our research program integrates experimental approach of comprehensive kinetic and thermodynamic analyses of catalytic reaction pathways and mechanical properties of biopolymers with computational and mathematical modeling, and image analysis to develop and test predictive models of work output by molecular motor proteins, enzyme function and adaptation, and biopolymer fragmentation and assembly. Our work has revealed how enzymatic adaptations among evolutionary related molecular motor proteins determine their biological function, and how cells regulate the length and assembly dynamics of polymers that drive cell movement and other vital activities. Our research is interdisciplinary, and our different backgrounds include biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, but we all have fun here.
Our current and future efforts focus primarily in three areas:
- identifying the molecular origins of actin filament elasticity and the mechanical basis of filament severing by regulatory proteins;
- defining how ATP utilization by DEAD-box proteins (DBPs) is coupled to duplex rRNA unwinding and RNA export;
- determining the catalytic pathways, specificities and biological activities of nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase (NPP) enzymes.