Aspergillus Genetics Lab
Welcome to the Aspergillus Genetics Lab established in the Department of Biology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens http://en.uoa.gr/. The major interests of our group concern studies related to the regulation of cellular expression, structure, function and evolution of transporters. We use Aspergillus nidulans, but also Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as model systems for: a) genetically, biochemically and functionally dissecting structure-function relationships underlying purine-pyrimidine transporter kinetics, specificity and molecular evolution, b) identifying the pathways and molecular mechanisms involved in the membrane trafficking, endocytosis and turnover of specific transporters in response to various physiological, developmental and genetic signals, c) studying the role of transporters in fungal pathogenicity and use in silico modeling of specific purine transporters for rational antifungal drug design.
A major breakthrough in our research is the crystallization of UapA, the first purine transporter crystallized in any organism (manuscript accepted in Nature Communications, Alguel et al., April 18, 2016). Importantly, the structure of UapA breaks the established dogma that transporters function as monomers, as we obtained compelling structural evidence, supported by functional assays, that UapA and relative transporters functions as a dimers. These findings predict that co-operativity and allosteric phenomena might also concern transporter function. The importance of this might also prove to have implications in the exploitation of transporters as drug gateways or key tools in the design of improved strain for biotechnology, a direction we are interested in.