As part of their summer research with Associate Professor of Chemistry Myriam Cotten, Matt Baxter ’11 and Jason McGavin ’12 spent 10 days working at the Center for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy and Imaging of Proteins at the University of California San Diego. The Center is managed by Professor Stanley Opella, who is pioneering the use of bicelles (“bilayered micelles”) to study membrane proteins under physiologically relevant conditions.
In collaboration with Professor Opella and members of his team, Baxter and McGavin are using bicelles to study piscidin, the antimicrobial peptide investigated in Cotten’s research group. These studies have provided new insights into the mode of action of piscidin, which kills bacteria within a few minutes, and may used to design antibiotics which do not induce bacterial resistance. Cotten’s project is supported by a five-year CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation.