Research Interests

Research Interests: Most biological macromolecules are designed to perform very precise and intricate functions in living cells. To achieve such functions, these molecules assume elaborate three-dimensional structures. The major thrust of the research effort in Kim's laboratory is in three areas: Structural biology: The language used by molecules in cells to communicate with each other is diverse. Molecular communication is achieved, in many cases, by the conformational complementarity between communicating molecules along the chains of signaling pathways. We study the structures of proteins involved in the signal transduction pathways associated with the cellular processes of cell growth, cell cycle, sensory perception and chemotaxis. We are also interested in discovering and designing drugs that inhibit these proteins based for therapeutic purposes. Structural genomics: An analysis of the genomic sequences of many organisms indicates that a large fraction of the encoded proteins cannot be assigned a particular molecular and/or cellular functions. Since the molecular (biochemical and biophysical) function of a protein is tightly coupled to its three-dimensional structure, the three-dimensional structure or its folding pattern, in combination with sequence information, may provide important insight into its molecular function, which, in turn, may help to place it in a particular cellular pathway. Thus, the structural study of the proteins encoded by an entire genome or cellular processes-an approach often called "Structural Genomics" or "Structural Proteomics"-can provide an important foundation for the understanding of the biological processes in the whole organism. We are involved in an effort to determine a near complete structural complement of the proteome of "minimal organisms," Mycoplasma, which have only 500-700 genes. Computational genomics: As a computational counterpart of the Structural Genomics described above, three aspects of computational biology are pursued: (1) Semi-empirical protein fold prediction, (2) Mapping of conformations of building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids, and (3) "Mapping of protein universe" to classify proteins into protein fold families and to discover their evolutionary relationship among the families.

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Primary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry