Barbara Imperiali

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Election Year: 2010
Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Secondary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology and my group exploits multidisciplinary approaches involving chemical synthesis, biophysical measurements, and biochemical methods to investigate fundamental problems in chemical biology. I am fascinated by post-translational protein modification reactions and, in particular, focus on understanding the chemical logic underpinning the membrane-associated biochemical processes that lead to enzyme-catalyzed asparagine-linked protein glycosylation, which is an essential transformation that is associated with all domains of life. N-linked glycosylation occurs via a complex and integrated sequence of enzymatic transformations that affords a key membrane-bound polyprenyldiphosphate-linked glycosyl donor and culminates with glycosyl transfer to protein catalyzed by the integral membrane enzyme oligosaccharyl transferase. Current research seeks to provide inhibitors as tools to probe the roles of glycosylation in pathogenic bacteria, methodological approaches for investigating the coordinated action of glycosylation pathway enzymes that function at the membrane interface, and active, monomeric OTases for detailed biochemical and biophysical analysis. My group also focuses on the design, synthesis and application of novel chemical tools for studying complex biological systems. In particular we have developed fluorescent and luminescent probes, which can play essential roles in biological studies for investigating protein phosphorylation and dynamic protein/protein interactions.

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