Hanne Poulsen

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Biological Microcables, Bacterial Pathogenesis and Neurotransmitter Transport

The research is focused on the three major research areas: Bacterial nanowires and microcables, bacterial pathogenesis factors and neurotransmitter sodium symporters (NSSs). The aim of the research is to determine and analyse the three-dimensional structures of proteins and protein complexes involved in these processes.

The structures determined are used to explain the molecular details and chemical basis for the function of the involved proteins. This structural knowledge is of fundamental importance for answering the following questions:

  • How can we explain electronic conductivity in biological cable structures at the molecular level?
  • Which factors produced by bacterial pathogens cause disease and what is the structural and functional basis for this?
  • What is the molecular mechanism behind neurotransmitter clearing in synapses by human NSS proteins such as the serotonin transporter?

Answering these questions may lead to new bio/nano-electronics based on biological molecules, structure-based design of novel anti-microbials and a better understanding of how antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work at the molecular level.

The structural work is based on small-angle X-ray scattering, electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography, but additional structural and functional techniques such as circular dichroism, atomic force microscopy and microscale thermophoresis are used e.g. through collaborations with other laboratories. Research projects in the above areas are currently ongoing and people interested are welcome to contact me.

The group is part of the “Centre for Membrane Pumps in Cells and Disease – PUMPKIN” funded by the National Danish Research Foundation and the “Centre for Structural Biology”.