MBG welcomes Assistant Professor Mustafa Köksal, our newest faculty member, who joined us at the beginning of year 2013.
Dr. Köksal’s research interests are broadly in the area of structural and chemical biology and biochemistry with focus on understanding the structure-function relationships in biological macromolecules, especially enzymes. In this, he will seek to enhance their functional capabilities, to manipulate their activities, and to design and develop functional bio-nanomaterials or therapeutic agents. Research in Dr. Köksal’s laboratory has two facets: (1) discovery and understanding of underlying principles of structure-function relationships, (2) utilization and application of these principles to enhance and manipulate the functional properties of the macromolecules in question. His research program has roots in basic science but develops and expands on applications of the basic scientific knowledge. His group targets four areas: (1) enzymes involved in biosynthesis of natural products and in biodegradation of hydrocarbon pollutants, (2) enzymes involved in generation of alternative energy sources, (3) manipulation of relevant enzymes for greater use in industrial biosynthesis and utilization of macromolecules as functional bio-nanomaterials, (4) structural biology of macromolecular drug targets involved in human diseases to facilitate design and development of new therapeutic agents.
The hexameric structure, with its three-fold rotation symmetry, of geranyl diphosphate C-methyltransferase, which has the distinctive ability to modify terpenoid precursors. The cofactor and the substrate molecules, which are bound in the active site of the enzyme, are shown with green model; magnesium ion is shown with the magenta model. Protein engineering studies on this enzyme are currently underway in Dr. Köksal’s laboratory.