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Willie Taylor : Computational Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory

We are using advanced computer programmes to understand more about the shapes and functions of protein molecules inside cells.

Proteins are the main components of cells and have a wide range of roles. Some are involved in generating energy, others copy or repair DNA, while some maintain the physical shape of the cell and the structures within it – and there are many thousands more.

Proteins are made up of long strings of twenty different ‘building blocks’ called amino acids. These strings must be folded up into the correct shape for the protein to work properly, and any mistakes in the folding or the final shape will mean that the protein can’t do its job.

We are using computer analysis tools to understand the relationship between the string of amino acids that make up a protein and its shape and function. And we are investigating what happens when changes in the protein affect its structure and lead to disease.

Our work helping us to develop ways to predict the structure and function of naturally-occurring proteins from their amino acid and shedding light on how particular changes cause different diseases. And we are also using our tools to make predictions about the properties of entirely new proteins that have been designed in the lab, which could prove to be very useful in medicine or other applications.