Computational Biology Research
We perform research in different areas of computational biology, in a comparative, evolutionary fashion. With an emphasis on understanding how protein structure and function have shaped the genomic sequence library of today, we pursue projects aimed at elucidating novel mechanisms of molecular evolution that contribute to biological divergence among and within species. We are particularly interested in how changes in predicted structural divergence in a protein family may indicate change in selective pressure and functional divergence.
Evolution of Protein Structure
We investigate the evolutionary dynamics of protein structure and how the interplay between different structural and functional properties influence sequence evolution. Ultimately, we aim to gain insights to better predict functional implications of missense mutations. We also use protein family evolution including structural properties to survey viral protein families for fitness critical regions that may serve as broadly neutralizing antiviral targets.
Molecular Mimicry at the Host-Pathogen Interface
We explore how viruses are able to mimic structure and sequence for small parts of their host's proteome and the potential consequences thereof. Molecular mimicry between antigenic proteins such as Spike from SARS-CoV-2 and human proteins may trigger the release of cross-reactive antibodies with autoimmune potential. Further, we study how viruses can also use molecular mimicry to interfere with the host cell machinery. We aim to understand how the structural properties of molecular mimicry impact virus-host interactions.