Research Interests

My interests in protein structure and function, DNA dynamics, and genetic mechanisms have related primarily to the class of reactions known as site-specific recombination. More specifically, my laboratory has focused on the pathway by which the model virus bacteriophage lambda integrates its DNA into the chromosome of its cellular host, E. coli, where it is capable of residing in perpetuity. Under the appropriate conditions, such as physiological stress, this same recombination pathway precisely excises the viral DNA as a prelude to the cycle of virus growth that ultimately lyses the host cell to release a burst of infectious virus particles. High-resolution studies of this recombination pathway, in my laboratory and others, have revealed a complex reaction involving four different proteins that recognize a collection of 15 binding sites on the viral and bacterial DNA. The reaction mechanism has afforded a facile opportunity to study the formation and resolution of four-way DNA junctions, and the proteins and DNA together comprise a family of higher-order complexes whose structure, dynamics, and mechanism of function continue to challenge us.

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Primary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics