Biological science phenom joins Texas A&M from Oxford, bringing cutting-edge techniques to “see” proteins as they interact with lipids

November 17, 2014
Arthur Laganowsky, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology.

Arthur Laganowsky, Ph.D., has recently joined the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology as an assistant professor and Director of the Waters Collaboratory for Analysis of Membrane Proteins.

Arthur Laganowsky, Ph.D., a rising star in protein structural biology, has joined the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT) in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. Laganowsky, the Nicholas Kurti Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford in world-renowned Dame Carol Robinson’s Laboratory, is the most recent faculty recruit for the Texas A&M Health Science Center IBT, where he will serve as an assistant professor and Director of the Waters Collaboratory for Analysis of Membrane Proteins.

Laganowsky, though early in his career, is pioneering novel approaches to study membrane proteins and their interactions with lipid and drug molecules, which could lead to new treatments for a variety of diseases.

“Dr. Laganowsky is already a global leader in protein structure determination, having brought forth concepts that will revolutionize drug discovery throughout nearly all domains of biomedical science,” said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., CEO of Texas A&M Health Science Center.His work holds great promise for forging a new path in treatment of a wide array of complex and chronic diseases currently plaguing populations around the world.”

On the surface of living cells, protective membranes exist that contain many of our cells most important proteins. Often these proteins have unique and specialized functions, such as safeguarding the cargo going into and out of the cell that are necessary for cell survival. These membranes are largely composed of lipids, which themselves play key roles in maintaining membrane integrity and ensuring these specialized membrane proteins function properly.

Scientists currently know very little about how membrane proteins interact with membrane lipids, and much of what has been learned in the past about the function of these important proteins has not taken into account their interactions with lipids. That is, until now. Laganowsky’s laboratory is one of the first to apply techniques such as X–ray crystallography and native ion mobility mass spectrometry to “see” proteins as they interact with these lipids.

Laganowsky’s recent work, featured on the cover article in the international science journal Nature, discovered how lipids modulate the structure and function of channels responsible for the transport of ammonia and water into cells.

His findings are changing our understanding of the structural dynamics of proteins embedded in the cell membrane, providing novel insights that can be translated into the design and development of new drugs for the treatment of a number of different diseases,” said Cheryl Lyn Walker, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M Health Science Center IBT.

Laganowsky obtained his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles in chemistry and molecular biology in the laboratory of David Eisenberg. He received the Biochemistry Distinguished Dissertation Award for his doctoral work on structural studies of amyloid-related proteins.

— Holly Shive

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