Welcome to the Haitin lab!

Every cell in our body interacts with its environment. These ever-lasting cellular conversations serve to pass crucial information important for promoting and maintaining numerous processes, which enable the cells to respond to their changing surroundings. At the Haitinlab, we utilize cutting-edge methods to delineate the structural mechanisms underlying the activity and allosteric regulation of two types of enzymes: Ion channels, catalyzing the movement of ions across cell membranes, and prenyltransferases, synthesizing moieties for post-translational protein modification. Importantly, we focus on deciphering their essential roles for cellular proliferation and analyze pathophysiological mechanisms associated with cancerous transformation.

Ion channels are the key molecular elements, deeply involved in cellular communications. These fascinating proteins facilitate the controlled passage of charged particles, the ions, through lipid membranes, which are otherwise impermeable hydrophobic barriers. Indeed, due to their critical biological roles, approximately 15% of all drugs target ion channels as their therapeutic receptors. Moreover, as with all proteins, the structural organization of ion channels is tightly related to their diverse functions. Thus, it stands to reason that studying the molecular properties of these pivotal proteins is of extreme importance.

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Prenyltransferases form an enzyme superfamily that plays pivotal roles in the biogenesis of various post-translational modifications (PTM) moieties, which are crucial for their proper folding, cellular localization, and thus, their biological function. Moreover, PTM add another layer of complexity, increasing the functional and structural diversity of the proteome.

We study two different prenyltransferase families involved in several devastating conditions, such as inherited blindness, epilepsy, neurodegeneration, and cancer. By studying their structure and function at the molecular level, we aim to decipher the mechanisms underlying their activities in health and disease.