Creating new sensor surfaces for studying membrane proteins by SPR

Approximately 50% of all drug targets are integral membrane proteins. However biophysical techniques to study isolated membrane proteins are only recently being developed and success has been limited to a select few targets. We aim to create broadly applicable methods for studying membrane proteins interactions using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) that will assist in drug discovery. SPR is a powerful method for biomolecular interaction analysis, but requires proteins to be captured onto biosensor surfaces before measurements can be made. SPR biosensors must be stable under the flow-through microfluidic detector system, and present the membrane protein in a stable, native configuration.

The student will work with the supervisors to create new surface types, anticipated to greatly enhance the SPR signal to enable binding detection of small drug-like molecules to the target protein. The student will modify the SPR surfaces containing membrane proteins and test their suitability for studying protein-protein and protein-drug interactions. In addition to SPR, techniques including cryoFESEM, Raman microscopy, XPS and small angle X-ray scattering will be used to confirm the correct functionalization of the surface.