Picture of STAUFFACHER

CYNTHIA V. STAUFFACHER

Professor
HOCK 327
Phone: 765-494-4937

My lab applies x-ray crystallography and molecular biology to systems where proteins work together in membranes to perform a biological function. Cholesterol production in humans begins with the activity of the membrane-associated enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase. We determined the structure of a bacterial analogue of this enzyme. Insights into the mechanisms of activation and inhibition have been gained by also determining the structure in the presence of substrates and the cholesterol-lowering drug Lovastatin, and lead to the possibility for design of new drugs to lower cholesterol. 

ABC-transporters are ubiquitous membrane protein transport systems and include medically important molecules involved in multidrug resistance and cystic fibrosis. We have solved the atomic structure of a portion of one of these proteins. An examination of the complexes with substrates suggests a unique mechanism that links the energy from ATP cleavage with the physical opening and closing of a protein pore through the membrane.

Some proteins we study are soluble, but have their effect at a membrane surface. An example is a pathogenic bacterium's toxin that specifically binds to the surface of immune cells and stimulates them to grow and divide. By analyzing the structure of both wild type and mutant toxins, we have determined how the critical portions of the toxin protein interact with receptors on the immune cells.

Education

Ph.D., UCLA, 1977

Other Activities

  • INEL International Science and Engineering Fair, Portland, Oregon, May 10-16, 2004. As Director of the Lafayette Regional Science Fair, escorted local fair winners and their teachers.
  • Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, June 27-30, 2004. Served on NIH/National Cancer Institute Site Visit Team.
  • Walther Cancer Institute Annual Scientific Retreat, Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, August 5-7, 2004. Poster presentation by Adam Zabell: "Structural and Kinetic Analysis of Human Low Molecular Weight Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Inhibitors."
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center Structural Biology Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvanie, February 22-24, 2005. Site Visit Review for the National Cancer Institute

Grant Review/Study Section

  • General Medical Institute/National Institutes of Health Study Section, November 3-4, 2003.
  • NIH Physical Biochemistry Special Study Section for shared Instrumentation Grant Applications, Washington, DC, June 7, 2004.
  • General Medical Institute/National Institutes of Health Study Section, November 3-4, 2003.
  • NIH Physical Biochemistry Special Study Section for shared Instrumentation Grant Applications, Washington, DC, June 7, 2004.

Study Sections

  • NIH/GMS Biomedical Research Training Grants
  • Chair, Study Section for NIH/GM Biomedical Research Training Grants (BRT-A/BRT-B)

Conferences

  • 23rd Annual Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference, School of Pharmacy, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, October 4, 2003.
  • Biophysical Society Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, February 13-18, 2004. Poster presentations
  • Annual Biophysical Society Meeting, Long Beach, California, February 11-18, 2005. Poster presentations:

Professional Faculty Research

(Biophysics; molecular biology; biochemistry) Macromolecular structure and assembly using X-ray crystallography; membrane associated proteins; enzyme structure and function.