Biophysical Journal Editor’s Corner

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Know the Editors

Each month a Biophysical Journal (BJ) editor is featured in this section of the Newsletter.

Elizabeth Rhoades
Yale University
Editor in for the Proteins and Nucleic Acids Section





Q: What is your area of research?

Research in the Rhoades lab is focused on understanding structural plasticity in both functional and disease-associated roles of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). This class of proteins does not form stable secondary or tertiary structures under physiological conditions; many even remain disordered upon binding their molecular partners. Much of our effort has been directed towards IDPs whose aggregation and deposition as amyloid plaques is central to the pathology of several important degenerative diseases: islet amyloid polypeptide (Type II Diabetes), α-synuclein (Parkinson’s), and tau (Alzheimer’s and other taupathies). Studying the three in parallel allows us to generate specific insights into roles of the individual proteins as well as to determine more general principals relevant to the mechanism of pathological self-association by IDPs. Recently, we have begun to expand the scope of IDPs studied in the lab with a new project focused on the role of the troponin complex proteins, muscle filament regulatory proteins, which have disordered domains important for their function. Our primary approaches are single molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). A key feature of both methods is that they allow us to make quantitative assessments of our systems in isolation and in biologically relevant interactions, such as tau on microtubules or α-synuclein on phospholipid bilayers, that are challenging to access by more traditional structural methods.

August 2013 Table of Contents