Andrew Hausrath

Research Interests

Andrew Hausrath, PhD, owns a research goal to understand the organizing principles governing the action and form of macromolecular complexes. Most biological processes employ proteins as the active elements. However, the majority of processes are accomplished by large assemblies comprised of many different proteins, rather than by single proteins acting in isolation. While a great deal of detail is known about the structure of many individual proteins which comprise the constituent parts of these complexes, in only a few cases is there a comparable level of understanding of the action of the complex as a whole.
Dr. Hausrath’s lab employs a combination of theoretical and experimental approaches to address this gap in our understanding. On the theoretical side, a central theme has been the application of differential geometry to address such questions in structural biology. This mathematical discipline can be thought of as a precise language for the description of abstract shapes and forms, and it has proved to be a very versatile formalism for the analysis of the complex three-dimensional forms of proteins and their complexes. On the experimental side, his lab studies the structures of proteins and complexes using X-ray crystallography, microscopy, and biophysical techniques. Proteins of certain classes are heavily represented as components of complexes. These include repeat proteins, coiled-coils, and other symmetric folds. The modular nature of these proteins may facilitate their use within complexes, and also simplifies their mathematical representation. Knowledge of the structures and properties of the proteins which function within higher-order complexes then stimulates development of improved models and theory about how such complexes carry out their functions in the cell.
Systems of current interest include the ATP synthase, the signaling hormone adiponectin, and the higher-order organization of chromatin in the nucleus.