As one of the membrane protein centers funded by PSI:Biology, the MPID Center at ASU is specifically focused on a biological and medically relevant theme, aiming to determine the structures of viral, bacterial and human membrane proteins involved in pathogenesis. Under the leadership of the principal investigator, Dr. Petra Fromme, the MPID Center is trying to use the biological theme of membrane proteins in infectious diseases as the basis for the determination of more than 40 novel membrane protein structures and to develop new technologies for high throughput membrane protein expression, isolation, functional characterization, crystallization, and structure determination.
Membrane proteins represent >60% of all drug targets and they are also key players in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases. A critical step for the elucidation of the complex processes that are catalyzed by membrane proteins is an understanding of the structure, dynamics and function of membrane proteins. Our knowledge of processes catalyzed by membrane proteins suffers mainly from the lack of information concerning their structure as less than 300 different membrane protein structures are known at present. The MPID Center targets membrane proteins of important viral and bacterial pathogens, their infectious pathways, and molecules involved in host defense against the pathogens. The structure determination of each of the targets may provide important clues for the understanding of the infectious disease pathways and can therefore form the basis for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.