Lurie Cancer Center Member
Vinzenz M Unger, PhD
Professor, Molecular Biosciences; Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Cancer Cell Biology
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My lab pursues integrated research to understand the structure of function of membrane associated scaffolds and integral membrane proteins. Specifically, we combine structural biology (electron cryomicroscopy in particular) with biochemical, biophysical and cell biological approaches to answer how cells regulate the shape of their various membranes, and how metal ions cross cellular membranes. Currently our research if focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of cellular copper acquisition, and how proteins of the BAR-domain superfamily recognize, induce and/or maintain membrane curvature. The copper related research has direct ties to cancer biology in that the cellular copper uptake transporters in humans have also been shown to partake in the cellular uptake of cis-platin and other platin-based chemotherapeutics. The work on membrane remodeling may inform cancer biology by providing mechanistic insights in to processes that are critical for tissue invasion during metastasis.