David Farrens, PhD
Physical and biochemical studies of G-Protein coupled receptors
Our lab studies the structure and function of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of membrane proteins crucial for transmitting signals into cells. We focus our studies on two GPCR systems, the visual photoreceptor rhodopsin, and the marijuana receptor (the human neuronal cannabinoid receptor).
One way we study these proteins is by combining physical and biochemical techniques. For example, we introduce spectroscopic labels at defined locations in the proteins, and monitor where and what kinds of conformational changes occur during their activation.
Ultimately we hope to identify common structural mechanisms involved in GPCR mediated signal transduction and regulation. We feel our intense focus on these receptors is justified; the majority of drugs in use work by affecting GPCR signaling. Thus, a better understanding of how GPCRs are activated should help in future drug development.Contact Dr. Farrens